Alison and Mike Battle (text), Lauren A. Mills (illus.), The Untold Story of Father Christmas, Bloomsbury, 1 Nov 2017, 32pp., $21.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781408892343
This beautifully written story tells of the origins of Father Christmas, and Mother Christmas as well.
The master toymaker and his wife delight in the joy that their toys bring to children, just as they appreciate the natural world and have a quiet hope in the existence of the elven folk of the forest.
The tale of this generous couple is poignantly written and tells of their only sadness: not to have been granted a child of their own.
The toymaker’s wife, Mary, hatches a plan to secretly make and deliver toys to all the children of the village on Christmas Eve. And that starts the ball rolling. As their success overtakes their energy, the elven folk, who do indeed exist, hatch a plan. The rest, of course, is history.
The design of the book is traditionally beautiful, with softly glowing paintings on cream paper, and elegantly modern end papers depicting the wood of the forest trees, finished with a hard cover of deep red with silver lettering.
An appropriate contrast to much of the bright and comical in the Christmas picture book world, this book is a joy to behold. Just one qualm for me: incorrect punctuation of dialogue when it stretches over more than one paragraph – but I’m sure the children won’t mind.
Reviewed by Marita Thomson