So it’s no wonder that he gobbles up all the sweet treats that are left for him as he makes his way around the homes on that special night of the year. Biscuits, fruit mince pies, soft drink, crisps, candy canes, bubble gum – he enjoys them all. But when he finally gets home he is so tired that he goes to sleep without having a bath or brushing his teeth, and because it has been such an exhausting journey he sleeps for days and weeks and months! And when he finally does wake up there is a nasty strange beast growing in his beard – one that defies all Santa’s methods for getting rid of it until the reindeer have an idea…
This is a funny, clever story-in-rhyme that will appeal to children who like the fact that gross and dirty things can shock adults and make them shudder as their imaginations run wild. And if it can happen to Santa because he is too tired/lazy/not interested in having a wash then…
A new title by an upcoming author from Victoria that will fit into your Christmas Countdown well.
It is a sight so familiar to many Australian children. Brown, cracked, dried earth as far as the eye can see, and even if it could see further, the landscape wouldn’t change. Drought. The farmer’s curse is this sunburnt country where it can be a long time between drinks for the land and paddocks are empty as livestock is trucked off to the saleyards because it costs more to feed them than they are worth.
It takes its toll on farmers and their families and in a desperate bid to change things, Jane takes the long shiny train into her nearest town because Santa is coming and he is the one person who can grant children’s wishes. Standing in the queue in the hot sun, patiently waiting her turn, Jane has only one request from Santa. “My wish is for rain.”
Set against a backdrop of the most stunning and powerful illustrations that depict the desolation of the Australian landscape in drought, this story-in-rhyme brings alive the reality of summer and Christmas for so many and gives the reader pause to think about what life can be like at this time for our country cousins and what are the true gifts that we can hope for. While we cling to the English traditions of our ancestors with snow-clad scenes, hot dinners and Santas in red furry suits, there are those who see an entirely different side to this festive time that may not be so joyful. An excellent opportunity for the children to express their interpretation of an Australian Christmas in art and perhaps a change from the more traditional pictures and crafts.
I wish it had been available in 2002 when the news was dominated by the dreadful drought gripping so much of the country and my library’s focus was on gathering gifts for the children of Charleville. It would have been the perfect starter to show the people behind the landscapes of the news in a way that spoke directly to my students. But, in the meantime, it’s winging its way to Wales to show some children there what Christmas can be like for the children here.
Another worthy addition to Australia: Story Country.
This is the story of The Nativity told from the perspective of Joseph’s donkey, Despite its apparent smallness and insignificance, the donkey still played a massive role in this event that continues to be celebrated around the world. Though the donkey wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest of all the animals, he had an important job all the same.
Told in rhyme, this is a way to explain the story behind all the Christmas hype to the very young so they begin to understand what is really being recognised at this time. With its bright pictures and strong message that even the smallest of us has a role to play, it will appeal to parents who want their child to begin to know this enduring story and the common symbols associated with it including the angels, shepherds and the birth in the manger.
As an extra treat to start the season here’s a childhood favourite from Bing Crosby …