Advent Reading Challenge: Santa (again)

23rd December

Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Rob Ryan (Picador, 2010)

The Advent Calendar is now drawing to a close and I hope this trawl though some seasonal children’s literature has been as enjoyable

Another Night Before Christmas

Another Night…

for you as it has for me. Today’s calendar slot features a fairly recent publication by Carol Ann Duffy re-telling ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (see here). I bought this when it was first published as that year’s contribution to the festive library.

In this poem, a small girl decides to stay up late and see if Father Christmas really exists:

On the night before Christmas, a child in a house,
As the whole family slept, behaved just like a mouse…
And crept on soft toes down red-carpeted stairs.
Her hand held the paw of her favourite bear.

It’s a fact that a faraway satellite dish,
Which observes us from space, cannot know what we wish.
Its eye’s empty socket films famine and greed,
But cannot see Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Though she lived in an age where celebrity rules
And when most of the people were easily fooled,
By TV and fashion, by money and cars,
The little girl knew that here was a real STAR!

I like the modern twist here of Santa being compared to the twenty-first celebrity culture and coming out as the only true star on the horizon. Duffy captures the magic of Christmas that we as adults would still like to believe in. The black and white illustrations from Rob Ryan are striking: beautifully detailed and magical in themselves.

Only one more day to go…


Advent Reading Challenge: updated Dickens

5th December

Mrs Scrooge: A Christmas Tale by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Posy Simmonds (Picador, 2009)

Mrs Scrooge

Mrs Scrooge and a rather jolly ghost

A fresh spin on a Christmas classic and a welcome addition to our ever-growing collection of seasonal literature. I try to buy something new each year and as far as possible I choose a book that will appeal to adults and children alike. This entertaining story certainly fits the bill and Posy Simmonds’ illustrations are a humorous delight.

I have quoted a few lines from the story below, but without, I hope spoiling the story for anyone new to this quirky tale. Mrs Scrooge is  a widow (her husband ‘doornail dead’) who lives with her cat Catchit and is an avowed enemy of consumerism and champion of the environment and of free range turkeys:

‘She hated waste, consumerism, Mrs Scrooge, foraged in the London parks for chestnuts, mushrooms, blackberries, ate leftovers, recycled, mended, passed on, purchased secondhand, turned the heating down and put on layers, walked everywhere, drank tap water, used public libraries, possessed a wind-up radio, switched off lights, lit candles (darkness is cheap and Mrs Scrooge liked it) and would not spend one penny on a plastic bag.’

See what happens when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future make their appearance. You will not be disappointed and may even shed a tear…