One Christmas Wish
64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
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.