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Christmas books for Children

by
26 November 2021

Christine Miles looks at some possible choices

THE Christmas Star approaches the nativity from the angels’ perspective, and their problem of how to guide the shepherds and the kings to Jesus. A young angel suggests a star, and the hunt is on to find “the one”. The angels plump for one just “wakening”, implored to put their faith in its glittering potential. “Likewise, those who have faith in God find love is the star in their heart,” ends the tale.

It is beautifully illustrated. Imogen, aged six, thought the chosen star “cute”, and mostly followed the story, even if the language in places was not very child-friendly.

The Christmas Visitors features folksy illustrations, which Imogen found “creepy”, but which I enjoyed. It recounts the basics of the Christmas story in a no-nonsense fashion (Jesus is even accurately depicted as a toddler when the Wise Men visit, on the last page). This is helpful, in that it cements the foundations. Imogen liked the story “a bit”.

The Story of Christmas is by the children’s author Alexa Tewkesbury. The illustrations, by Dani Padrón, have an almost 3D-animation quality to them. The author’s take on what happened on that first Christmas emphasises the human response by all involved in the real-life divine drama: “‘Who — me?’ asks Mary. ‘You don’t mean me?’” But, by the end, Imogen was laughing, in disbelief, that every character’s final exclamation was: “Oh my!”

Bobby Dean Saves Christmas tells the story of Bobby, home-schooled his whole life, who, aged nine, starts going to school. Whenever he is nervous, he sings, which transports him on all sorts of adventures. How does he save Christmas? On one escapade, he even helps Santa recover his sleigh from the Disenchanted Forest. And, as Christmas Day dawns, Bobby realises that his first school term’s adventures have also included making loads of new friends. This was perfect for readers aged seven and above, Olivia, who is 11, concluded: she still enjoyed the feel-good factor, fun illustrations, and its celebration of being true to oneself.

© Martina PelusoThe shepherds visit the Holy Family in one of Martina Peluso’s illustrations for Deborah Lock’s The Christmas Visitors 

100 Best Christmas Poems for Children does what it says on the tin, featuring poems from the likes of Laurie Lee, Ted Hughes, Julia Donaldson, and others. The various evocations made Olivia feel warm and Christmassy. One of her favourites was Richard Edwards’s “Auntie Mimi’s Mistletoe”, about trying to avoid your aunt’s Christmas kiss. Others made her chuckle, too. And she enjoyed some of the religious ones, particularly “Flight into Egypt”, by Jean Kenward, told from the donkey’s perspective.

Christmas at Hope Hall, by Pam Rhodes was, Olivia felt, more for adults. The third in a trilogy, it begins with the story of Ray, the caretaker of a Victorian memorial hall, Hope Hall, who has just lost his wife, Sara. Ray is “adopted” by a stray dog, Banjo, whose full-on nature helps Ray adjust to life without Sara.

And, of course, there’s all the comings and goings of life at Hope Hall, as it plays host to lunch clubs, first-aid courses, rotary quizzes, all manner of parties, the Christmas charity fair, and the village panto. In the midst, we encounter the other villagers and their lives, loves, heartaches, dramas, and celebrations. An enjoyable read.

 

The Christmas Star
Hilary Robinson
Ciara Ni Dhuinn, illustrator
SPCK £6.99
(978-0-281-08433-3)
Church Times Bookshop £6.29

 

The Christmas Visitors
Deborah Lock
Martina Peluso, illustrator
Lion £9.99
(978-0-7459-7930-4)
Church Times Bookshop £8.99

 

The Story of Christmas
Alexa Tewkesbury
Dani Padrón, illustrator
SPCK £6.99
(978-0-281-08404-3)
Church Times Bookshop £6.29

 

Bobby Dean Saves Christmas
Aled Jones
Hodder & Stoughton £8.99
(978-1-5293-7612-8)
Church Times Bookshop £8.09

 

100 Best Christmas Poems for Children
Roger McGough, editor
Beatriz Castro, illustrator
SPCK £8.99
(978-0-281-08469-2)
Church Times Bookshop £8.09

 

Christmas at Hope Hall
Pam Rhodes
Lion £8.99
(978-1-78264-289-3)
Church Times Bookshop £8.09

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