Katherine Rundell weaves a wonderful, winter’s tale that highlights the imagination and joy that Christmas can bring.
Theodore is a young boy with busy parents. Very busy parents. On Christmas Eve his house doesn’t resemble Christmas at all and both his parents are dashing out to work. As many boys do when left to their own devices, Theodore finds something to occupy his mind: a well-wrapped box filled with old, battered decorations.
At the bottom of the box are some decorations less damaged: A Rocking Horse, a Robin, an Angel and a Tin Solider. And with a Christmas wish on a shooting star, Theodore’s night takes an amazing turn. Katherine Rundell uses her words carefully to build the characters of each decoration and it is delightful how they enhance the young boys night in ways he couldn’t imagine. I love the Rocking Horse who is forever nibbling at anything nearby.
Emily Sutton does a grand job with traditional style illustrations that makes the story timeless (the only part that ‘dates’ it is mum rummaging for her mobile phone.)
Now for the teacher bit. The book is like a Christmas equivalent of ‘Not Now Bernard’ as the parents role, or their absent role, is a great discussion point for PHSCE lessons. Can parents be too busy? Why? Exploring this aspect and looking for the inferences throughout the text would make a great reading lesson. The importance of loved ones at Christmas is a strong theme throughout the book. I tend to believe that Christmas based books help the teacher if they give a nod to the birth of Jesus and thankfully Katherine Rundell does. The only warning I’d add is the use of ‘farting’ once. I know many children’s books use the word now, but as a teacher if you are going to read aloud I’d rather you knew about it.
A gorgeous story to share with any child at Christmas.