One Christmas Eve

 

 

 

One Christmas Eve

One Christmas Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Christmas Eve

Corinne Fenton

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Black Dog, 2016

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925381252

“One Christmas Eve, Grandpa puts on his best shirt, Bella passes him his favourite hat, and they wave goodbye to Gran. Together they walk along the tape measure streets and roundabout corners until there, before them, is Luna Park.

When Bella visits Luna Park on Christmas Eve with Grandpa, he hands her a single silver coin to use on a ride. Bella enjoys the excitement of the roller-coaster, the squeals from the ghost train ride and the laughter from the giggle palace, but she is drawn to the sparkling carousel and it’s here she spends her precious coin.

When Bella climbs onto her dashing carousel horse, something magical happens when they launch into the velvety night sky where they encounter a jolly man in a red suit and his prancing reindeer. But the magic doesn’t end there…”  

This is a nostalgic, charming story of Christmas in the less-hectic times of 1968 that will arouse memories with many as they share it with their children and grandchildren in this Christmas Countdown. Reminiscing about Christmas in a time that wasn’t so dominated by big,  bold, bright and brassy -spent my 1968 Christmas coming to terms with the heat of Port Moresby – and just taking the time to enjoy the simple things.  And regardless of the season, who hasn’t dreamed of a magical, mystical ride on one of the beautiful carousel horses and Fenton’s beautiful text and Crosby-Fairall’s stunning illustrations are a perfect match as we soar high above the clouds and discover the magic that is there.  The power of imagination and dreams transcends all timeframes and generations. 

One Christmas Eve was the focus of the Melbourne and Brisbane Myer Christmas windows for 2016 and these are now in Ballarat for 2017.   Lucky are those in a position to go to see them!

What Do You Wish For?

What Do You Wish For?

What Do You Wish For?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Wish For?

Jane Godwin

Anna Walker

Viking 2015

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780670078110

Each year the children in Ruby’s street put on a Christmas show with songs and costumes and real curtains during the party in the park at the end of the street.  Before that they decorate the big tree and each writes a Christmas wish to hang in it. Everyone has a wish but Ruby knows that the wish deep inside her is too big to put on a small piece of paper.  What could it be?

This is a charming story that reminds us of the warmth of Christmas traditions, the magic of wishes and a child’s timeless dreams – the patchwork of events and activities that make the memories for when they are older.  It reminds us as adults that no matter how old, tired, jaded, it’s-Christmas-again-already? we get, it is a most magical time for our children and the things we do will be taken on through their lives to their children.  They DESERVE our time to make it special for them, and if that’s the only thing we can give them then that is the biggest gift of all. To know that we are willing to pause our busy lives to bring some magic to theirs is often all they want – just like Ruby.

That Christmas Feeling

 

 

 

That Christmas Feeling

That Christmas Feeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Christmas Feeling

Lili Wilkinson

Amanda Francey

Allen & Unwin, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760294960

This Christmas sure isn’t like last Christmas.  This year Jem and Dottie and Shortbread the dog are staying with Grandma and Grandpa and the fizzy, exciting feeling where everything is a bit magical just isn’t there.  No matter how hard Grandma and Grandpa try to replicate the events of last year, the feeling isn’t happening and Jem and Dottie are so worried that their mum and dad won’t get home in time. There is no sparkle.

Come bedtime and with still no parents, and a concern that Santa won’t find them, Dottie is really despondent,  To cheer her up Jem suggests they go outside and find Christmas… and as they marvel in the stars which are their twinkly lights and sing some carols they hear a noise.  Is it Santa?  No it’s a car…

Every year authors’ imaginations come up with a host of new stories for this festive season, and That Christmas Feeling has to be one of the most special for this year.  Sometimes, for lots of reasons, it is hard to get your Christmas on and no matter how hard you or others try, it just doesn’t happen. Lili Wilkinson, who established http://insideadog.com.au, the Inky Awards and the Inkys Creative Reading Prize at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria, has created a gentle, loving story that will resonate with lots of children who are missing their parents at this time and whose absence is all the more poignant because of the dates.  While there is a happy ending for Jem and Dottie, others are not so fortunate so sharing the story could be a catalyst for our children to think of those who can’t get the feeling this year and how they might be able to reach out to them in some way.  

Something very special to add to your Christmas Countdown collection.

Sage Cookson’s Christmas Ghost

 

 

 

Sage Cookson's Christmas Ghost

Sage Cookson’s Christmas Ghost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sage Cookson’s Christmas Ghost

Sally Murphy

New Frontier, 2017

65pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9781925594058

Sage Cookson, daughter of globe-trotting celebrity chefs Ginger and Basil, is on the move again.  Sad about leaving her best friend Lucy behind for Christmas, nevertheless she is excited about going to Western Australia where her parents are going to be supervising the creation of the world’s largest pavlova in an attempt to break the record for this dessert, currently held by its country of origin, New Zealand.  

Too large to be baked in conventional ovens, the action takes place in a disused brickworks where the kilns are large enough to accommodate it, and there will be live crosses to its creation and success (or otherwise) during the annual carols by Candlelight program broadcast on television in the eastern states.  Despite a definitive ruling,  this concoction of sugar and egg whites has been the subject of dispute since it was first created and served in 1927 in honour of ballerina Anna Pavlova’s visit to the two countries in the 1920s and this becomes the centre of the conflict.  Are all the little things going wrong or going missing the work of a malevolent Christmas ghost or a saboteur…

This series for newly independent younger readers combines the author’s love of television cooking shows and mysteries, so that in each new addition something goes wrong and Sage has to solve the problem. Will she get to the bottom of this mystery and enable Australia to claim the record or will it stay where it belongs, in New Zealand?  Sage is going to appeal to a range of young readers who will be able to follow her adventures and then visit her website for more fun. Learning to make proper pavlova is something we Kiwi kids learned at our mother’s elbow, but there is a recipe included (very similar to the original, proper one) that more adventurous young cooks might like to try.

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760295653

All the reindeer are fast asleep, tucked up in their beds resting before the big night ahead when their dreams are shattered by Ruby telling them it is time to get up!  Except it’s not.

But she is determined to get a head start on the Christmas deliveries because she is tired of taking the blame for time running out and everyone getting anxious and stressed and so she takes off on her own…

Luckily when she runs out of puff, she crashes into George and Amelia’s home – they are familiar with her from her previous antics in The Naughtiest Reindeer and The Naughtiest Reindeer at the Zoo but what are they to do with her when she is a day early? Easy – they take her to school!!! Oh dear!

The naughtiest reindeer has become a Christmas favourite of the Christmas Countdown and this new adventure is no different.  It rollicks along with rhyme and illustrations each highlighting the chaos that only Ruby can cause! I know two little girls who will enjoy renewing their friendship with her before sharing this latest adventure this Christmas Eve. 

Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A12.99

9780141388281

Fans of the Very Hungry Caterpillar will like this small-format book from Eric Carle despite its northern hemisphere focus.  While the VHC doesn’t play an active role in the story, he does appear on each page sharing the precepts of the Christmas season in simple text and classic Carle illustrations which will focus their thinking. 

Older children could use it as a compare and contrast exercise as they place the northern hemisphere version alongside their summer hemisphere experience and then discuss the common themes. It could inspire some artwork and help develop the language of comparison, or even spark a discussion about the proliferation of Christmas books and songs featuring favourite characters and artists and who they enjoy most.

 

 

A Christmas Wish

 

 

 

A Christmas Wish

A Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Wish

Beatrix Potter

Eleanor Taylor

Puffin, 2017

18pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9780241291757

It’s Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit and his sisters are excited, but Peter is worried too. They have all wished for a special present but Peter can’t sleep, and he knows Father Christmas won’t visit if he’s still awake. As the hours drag by anxious Peter hears a little creak here, and a little bump there, so now he’s even less likely to fall asleep, especially as he is convinced each noise must be Santa and he gets up to investigate. Then he decides to sit and gaze at the lights on the Christmas tree…will Santa come while he’s there?

The charm and delight of Beatrix Potter’s tales about Peter Rabbit have endured over decades and this adaptation is no exception.  Perfect for that final sleep on the BIG night, little ones will empathise with Peter as they share his excitement and find it just as tricky to get to sleep it will become a classic part of the annual Christmas Countdown.

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Ori’s Christmas

 

 

 

Ori’s Christmas

Ori’s Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ori’s Christmas

Anne Helen Donnelly

Self-published, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780646962207

Christmas is coming and Ori the Octopus wants to celebrate Christmas with his friends.  But each friend has a request for what should be done or otherwise they will not attend.  Singing Christmas carols, taking photographs, wrapping presents, a Christmas tree, a hot lunch… all the common Christmas traditions are requested. But when the day comes and Ori has organised all that has been asked, each creature finds that they can’t do everything and all looks gloomy.  Until…

Bright, colourful illustrations accompany this original story which offers lots of opportunities for the little ones to join in with actions and comments about the special things their families always do at Christmas that would need to be included if they had been invited.

Notes for parents and teachers as well as some cut-out decorations that can be coloured and hung are included. Something different for very young readers.

One Christmas Wish

 

 

 

One Christmas Wish

One Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Christmas Wish

Emily Sutton

Bloomsbury, 2017

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781408885734

It’s Christmas Eve and once again, Theo’s parents are at work and he is left home alone with the babysitter – not even his regular beloved Mrs Goodyere – and even she has fallen asleep with her nose in her phone.  

While there is a tree, the only thing under it is an envelope with gift vouchers that no matter how hard he tries to fold into an interesting shape, still remains an envelope with gift vouchers.  Theo decides to decorate the tree using baubles that have seen better days – his parents have had no time to buy a turkey, let alone new decorations – and a tin soldier, a robin, a rocking horse and an angel, each as decrepit and neglected as everything else.  The angel’s’ wings are moulting; the robin has a bald patch, the rocking-horse’s runners have been half-eaten with woodworm and the soldier’s drum is rusted.

As Theo looks out the window because it is better than looking at the saddest Christmas tree ever, he spots a red and green light soaring across the star.  “A shooting star,” he whispers and immediately closes his eyes, clenches his fists, crosses his toes, bites on his tongue and makes a wish.  If wishes are to come true, you have to wish for your whole body and all Theo wanted was to be un-alone. He wishes so hard that his skins prickles and his head spins and…

With its retro theme and look, this is more than a picture book but not quite a novel that could become a regular read-aloud in the lead-up to Christmas.  It tries to transition between the olde-worlde Christmas of times past where families gather around the tree lovingly decorated with familiar trinkets with each holding memories and the frantic lives parents choose to have, so much so that they can’t even be home on the one night of the year that is so special for so many children.  It’s a reminder that we need to value the underlying meaning of Christmas, even if just for a few hours, and make and share the magic that  our children enjoy for such a short time.

 

A Very Quacky Christmas

 

 

 

A Very Quacky Christmas

A Very Quacky Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Quacky Christmas

Frances Watts

Ann James

ABC Books, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733329623

Sebastian Tortoise is bamboozled by Samantha Duck’s Christmas preparations.  As she winds tinsel around the reeds, hangs baubles and her Christmas stocking on a branch, and sings “We wish you a quacky Christmas” while making a long list so she can give presents to all the animals in the world, he keeps telling her that Christmas is not for animals.  But she convinces him to help her by pointing out that Christmas is about giving and sharing and that they can make all the gift themselves by getting the other animals on the farm to help. 

To his surprise, the animals love the idea and each helps in their own way keeping Samantha and   Sebastian very busy.  But having made all the presents, delivering them on Christmas Eve becomes problematic – perhaps Christmas is not for animals after all.

This is a gentle story for younger children that celebrates the joy of sharing and giving, belief and perseverance and offers another perspective of the meaning of Christmas for little ones. Is Christmas just about receiving presents?  Do presents have to be store-bought, big, bright and shiny to be worthwhile?  What could they make by themselves or with a sibling or friend to give to others? Perhaps children could draw a name out of a hat and make just one present for that child as part of the STEM curriculum so each gets something and the pressure put on parents to provide presents for everyone that is becoming a common expectation can be abolished.  

Even though Sebastian was so sceptical he agreed  to help Samantha and he is the one encouraged to keep trying when all seems lost so explore the concept of friendship and how teamwork can often achieve the impossible. 

Unlike many books with a Christmas theme, this one is as rich in ideas to explore as Santa’s sack while still maintaining the charm and the delight of the season. 

Teachers notes are available but for me,  the story stands alone as a must-have addition to that special time of the Christmas Countdown at bedtime.