Sophie Masson (ed), A Toy Christmas: a magical anthology of original stories, Christmas Press, 1 Nov 2016, 96pp., $24.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780994234063
Christmas is in the air and toys (and books) are being bought to be placed under the tree. In this anthology, talented Australian writers who you already know well, come together to contribute to a collection of Christmas stories about toys.
There’s so much to enjoy in A Toy Christmas: each story involves a toy or toys – whether it’s Santa having difficulty delivering them (What? No Christmas Toys for the Children?), or a young Jewish boy thinking he’s not going to get presents or celebrate Christmas before Chanukah and its importance is explained to him (Avi and the Chanukah Surprise). The latter offers a subtle introduction to the diversity at Christmas, and the idea that not everyone may celebrate the holiday the same way. Another story delves into a child’s grief at this time of year, showing him finding solace with an unexpected toy (and yes, that’s the title of the story too). There are of course stories that are just magical – literally in some cases as toys come to life.
The anthology is an unexpected treat – this time of year is often filled with tradition, which is lovely, but sometimes it can mean that the beauty of something different is lost in the race to maintain traditions. Christmas stories are one of those elements that could use a refresh, while maintaining the spirit of the holidays, and that’s exactly what this anthology does.
This is a book filled with modern stories, with a touch of the traditional and humourous. I didn’t expect the anthology to touch on such topics like the loss of a loved one, or that others have different Christmas traditions to celebrate. Christmas is always a joyous time of year, but these stories remind young readers about the magic of Christmas, while giving the idea of Christmas stories a modern, Australian refresh.
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow