Thursday, November 30, 2017

One Christmas Wish by Katherine Rundell illustrated by Emily Sutton

In just one week I have been invited to talk to a group of parents and their children about some of the books I have been reading.  I wanted to include a Christmas book and when I saw this one - One Christmas Wish by an author I adore (Katherine Rundell) I was keen to add it to my huge pile.

I wish this blog was tactile because you need to run your hand over the cover.  It is embossed and covered with gold embellishments.  It would also be good if I could show you under under the dust jacket and reveal the other beautiful cover.  Again this is gold and highly tactile.

The illustrations are one of the stand out features of this delightful book.  Emily Sutton also illustrated another one of my favourite Christmas books - The Christmas Eve Tree. Take a look at some of the art work at The Illustration Cupboard in London.  You might know also her from the book Clara Button and the magical hat day.

As this story opens Theodore is struggling to open the box containing Christmas decorations.  He finds four old decorations in very poor shape.

  • a rocking horse - the rockers had been part eaten by woodworm
  • a robin - with a bald patch
  • an angel - with moulting wings
  • a tin soldier - with a rusty drum

Theo hangs them low on the tree.  There is no one to help him reach higher.  His parents are at work and have no time - they have not even bought presents just vouchers.  His babysitter is asleep "with her nosed pressed against her phone."  Perhaps this is a sad indictment on the modern family.

Theo looks out of the window and he sees a star "shooting across the sky, blinking red and green."  Like any sensible boy he makes a wish "I want not to be alone. ... to be un-alone."

You may have guessed each of the decorations now comes to life.  Each needs restoring in a different way and as Theo attends to their needs they show him a magical Christmas eve.

They way the parents are absent and the careless babysitter might worry adult readers.  The reviewer in Books for Keeps explains this in her review (spoiler alert).  I do think, however, the magic of the ending, where Christmas is restored, will make revisiting this book part of your family Christmas tradition.   Listen to an audio sample here.  One thing to watch as you are reading.  The rocking horse keeps eating and eating anything and everything.  Why?  So he can grow big enough to give Theo a ride across the town.

You might also enjoy The Magic Saddle (sadly long out of print) illustrated by Patricia Mullins and some of the other books listed here.

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