by Oakley Graham
illustrated by Patricia Yuste
Hinkler Books, Heatherton, 2012
Age group: preschool primary secondary school
My children chose this book from our local library – and I must say I’m glad I didn’t buy it or have to store it long term.
The book is based on the concept of 27 aspects of Christmas. Each aspect is given a page of text opposite a lovely illustration. 24 or 25, or even 31, would be a more logical number to my thinking but the overall concept is good, I think.
The book it titled ‘when I dream of Christmas’ but the words and idea are only mentioned once in the book – on the last page. Noting else in the book is about dreaming so I find the title misleading and irrelevant.
Of course, the book is focussed on a winter Christmas – right from the first page, children in more than half the world are excluded as ‘sledging’ is not part of our Christmas at all.
However, it is the actual text that I really don’t like. I think it is meant to be funny on a number of pages, but it seemed lame to me and my children didn’t laugh or smile once. Comments like “sledging is fun at any time but best with snow” is a little patronising rather than funny. Likewise, dirty socks making gifts smell like cheese and Christmas lights causing kids to ride into snowmen are just not necessary.
The only page not so silly was the last page when it talks about baby Jesus (of course, for the non-religious that raises other issues!)
On the other hand, Patricia Yuste has done some lovely pictures for the book. She has matched them to the story well and used bright colours and simple characters to make it look delightful.
So, obviously, I don’t recommend buying this book for anyone. My three and five year olds listened to it all and said it was ok – but have not asked for a second reading which says it all I think.