• It’s The Big Issue’s annual kids’ Christmas cover competition!

It’s The Big Issue’s annual kids’ Christmas cover competition!

Issue 1132

It’s The Big Issue’s annual kids’ Christmas cover competition!

THIS is the feel-good hit of the winter

It’s our annual kids Christmas cover comp – and this year 8 year-old Maya Jerram has taken the prize and nailed the cover. Great colours, great joy in that image with Santa holding The Big Issue. We carry a load of the others inside, enough to melt the most cynical heart.

Our Letter To My Younger Self is with Alan Johnson, surely in with a shout as Britain’s most-liked politician. A fantastic look back at his incredible early life – and we get to the real reason he keeps saying he won’t run for leader of the Labour party…

John Bird, meanwhile, has a great piece looking at Paddington – bear and station – at clumsiness , at difficult Hanif Kareishi stories and at realities and meaning. Alan Johnson makes a cameo appearance.

Spot The Ball – still here. How can you resist?

Professional footballers: a bunch of greedy ne’er-do-wells who DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY’RE BORN? Say hello to Steven Naismith, the Everton and Scotland star, who (without any fanfare) has become the most decent, socially-minded footballer in Britain. Fascinating interview.

We’re delighted to welcome Polly Devlin, a masterful grande dame of journalism, as our new Big Issue columnist. She writes about the joy and heartbreak of being a mother.

Business editor Dominic Laurie looks at the devious plays of payday loan brokers, while Adam Forrest digs into the reality of Santanomics.

Hello/Goodbye. This week, our featured vendor on page 3 and final page is Lucian Urs, in Swansea. A map-maker, satellite imager and recent graduate, Luican is selling The Big Issue while he tries to find other work. Spirited!

We also have a review of kids books of the year – useful if you’re struggling for some gift ideas.