by Patricia Chapman
Illustrated by Richard Hoit
This review might appear a little late for children to enjoy this book in the way it is intended, but it could still be in time to enhance the festive season.
’Tis the Month Before Christmas is a beautifully produced book of 112 pages, high quality paper, with full-colour illustrations on every page. In fact, the pictures are the main appeal of the book and add so much to the text.
The stories, designed to be read one per day in the month leading up to Christmas, are simply told in plain prose. Together they suggest the origin of many traditions related to the festive season. For instance: the giving of gifts, kissing under the mistletoe, the yule log, writing letters to Santa Claus, Christmas stockings, and more; yet they wisely avoid making too much of the connections.
Apparently intended for the European market, the stories bear no resemblance to a Kiwi Xmas, but perhaps some readers here with a background in northern traditions may like to give their nostalgia a tickle. But New Zealand does get a mention – watch for it.
With 31 days to cover it’s a hard ask to keep up the quality and interest, so it’s no surprise that a few feel of lesser consequence. All the same, the book might help to answer some of those tricky questions children ask at this time of year – how Santa knows what each child wants, how such a huge amount of toys is produced at somewhere as apparently inhospitable as the North Pole, and how Santa’s sack manages to hold all the presents for children everywhere.
Best of all, the stories show Santa and Mrs Claus as real people; they even have first names. Many mums will appreciate that Mrs Claus is as much a part of the Christmas business as is her husband, with a full role in the organization.
This is a book that should be read to children. After each, they’re bound to want to spend time looking at the pictures, which are delightful.
Author: Patricia Chapman. Illustrator: Richard Hoit
Publisher: Upstart Press