SAXBY, Claire (text) Janine Dawson (illus.) Christmas at Grandad’s Farm Five Mile Press, 2013 unpaged $16.99 pbk ISBN 9781743463789 SCIS 1638765
Printed in brackets on the cover are the words (Jingle all the way . . .) and that perfectly describes this happy rollicking book with its cover illustration of a genial Grandad and his three excited grandchildren wearing thongs, Christmas caps, carrying beach towels, and accompanied by their two puppies, obviously set for an exciting day’s outing. Over the page the text sets the scene more closely: the family has arrived at Grandad’s with hugs and smiles all round, while above are the lyrics following the traditional Jingle Bells, but adding ‘Here we are on Grandad’s farm, It’s Christmas time. HOORAY!
What follows in the metre of the well-worn Jingle bells, is a wonderfully happy account of a literally ‘fantastic’ Christmas Day: swimming, exploring and ‘Bashing through the dirt/In Grandad’s yellow ute,/Over bumps we go,/Bouncing all the way’. From the cover onward words and pictures meld perfectly, inviting young readers, and old ones too, to join in and sing along. Those of us with a country background will recall those idyllic days ending in a family barbecue, then being tucked into bed too excited to sleep properly, until Christmas Day actually arrives with presents around the tree before a Christmas feast is followed by family games.
This is a perfect book for family sharing. City kids denied the joys of country life might well be envious, but here is the opportunity to taste vicariously the healthy freedom that should be part of growing up, not only in Australia; but for children everywhere. Here is a blueprint for happy, healthy living. If only there were more such experiences, creating for our children ‘The good life’.
reviewed by Maurice Saxby