A Christmas Truce, The Night Before and a bit of a Sleigh Ride.

Historical Fiction, Picture Books / Sunday, December 20th, 2015


“Christmas time! Mistletoe and wine” … oops, sorry, caught me out there. Hello everyone! This month has been a very hectic one at Book Monster HQ, and so am a little late with my Christmas posting this year, but crikey have I got a great selection for you, and there’s still time to buy all of these titles as wonderful booky gifts for children or adults!

I have three lovely Christmas books to tell you about, all very different.


Firstly, I have The Christmas Truce written by Hilary Robinson and illustrated by Martin Impey. I recently wrote a review of Flo of the Somme (read it here) by this wonderful team, and it is probably clear from it, that I am a very big fan of their books. The Christmas Truce changes nothing on that front.

The Christmas Truce has made the final of the People’s Book Prize, which is wonderful news. Voting for this opens in May 2016, so read this review, and keep your eyes peeled for voting.
Click here for more information. —> The People’s Book Prize

This book continues the story of Ray and his best friend Ben (who you may recognise from the fantastic book Where the Poppies Now Grow) two young soldiers fighting in World War One, in a reimagining of a remarkable true story. We are taken straight to an area torn apart by war, surrounded by barbed wire, as cold and frightening as it gets. But this isn’t a story about fighting, it is a story about peace. We see the soldiers on both sides celebrating Christmas in the best way they can in the trenches, with modest Christmas trinkets … all they have. Ben and Ray’s enemy soldiers sing Silent Night across the fields, and as a result the two sides (for a short while at least) find peace in No Man’s Land. They shake hands, play football together, sing and celebrate as best they can as equals, men stuck fighting, risking their lives, missing their families and homes.


The Christmas Truce is expertly written in a similar style to Where the Poppies Now Grown and Flo of the Somme, in that it is poetry, which gradually, page by page, line by line reveals the full story. Hilary manages to use few words, perfectly chosen and placed to tell a story that is poignant and so very touching. I found The Christmas Truce in particular, incredibly beautiful to read. If the break in the poem, for one special line doesn’t get your heart beating and emotions welling, then nothing will!


Martin’s illustrations again compliment Hilary’s words so perfectly. The colours reflect the cold crisp air and minute details show both the awfulness of the soldiers’ situation (barbed wire, rats, explosions), along with the beauty of it in the small Christmas tree, their smiles and of course the beautiful dove and her olive branch. Yet on the last page we see the temporariness of this moment of peace. We can never truly understand what it was like to experience life, Christmas, in the fields of WW1, but Martin’s illustrations suck us into that World so effectively that you will feel and imagine it as closely as you ever could.


The Christmas Truce is Incredibly hopeful yet sad at the same time. It’s heartfelt and so superbly executed by Hilary and Martin. A picture book suitable for older children, but would also make a much loved Christmas present for adults. This is a Christmas story which celebrates friendship, kindness, the power of the human spirit and should be bought, kept re-read and treasured every year.


My next Christmas book is Santa’s Sleigh is on its way to Sheffield (also available as other locations) written by Eric James and illustrated by Robert Dunn.

Okay, so to be honest, my first reason to writing about this book is because I helped with it!! Oh yes, I had great fun helping the publishers select locations in Sheffield for this book (thank you to publishers Hometown World for the mention in the book also), this is all very exciting for a Book Monster you know!!

However, this is not the only reason I love this book. The publisher’s have created a huge  (really huge) series of these titles based in different locations all over the UK and the USA, so if you look you are sure to find one set in your home town.


In this sweet book we follow Santa as he travels on his sleigh through various parts of Sheffield to deliver his presents. It’s great fun to read out loud to children, the rhymes flow really nicely, despite the inclusion of different place names, making this a challenge.


The wonderful bright illustrations include some of the iconic buildings that children may recognise. This is simple, but a lot of fun, clever and very nicely executed. It really is a great fun romp and a wonderful way for children to get excited about Christmas, to feel like they are a part of it, that Santa will come and visit THEM soon.


Lastly, but by no means least, The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Mark Marshall. The main thing that struck me about this book on receiving it, was how beautifully it is presented. The paperback version has been beautifully done by Little Tiger Press, with a gorgeous glitter filled cover that catches the light and feels just, special and very, well, Christmas.


We follow St Nicholas’s journey through the eyes of one little boy, who it seems couldn’t get to sleep. Again, it’s another wonderful book that builds the Christmas excitement for little ones through a reimagining of a traditional Christmas poem, so it has a nice familiarity about it. I really enjoyed reading this book, it’s perfect for story times and bedtime reading as it rhymes beautifully and has a nice soft and gentle rhythm to it, a lovely Christmas Eve read for children.


The illustrations are brightly coloured, yet have a soft and gentle feel to them which mirrors the lovely poetic text.

There you have it, three wonderful and wonderfully different Christmas books! Please watching this space as the Book Monster Best Books of 2015 will be coming very very soon! And there are some corkers on that list!

Thanks for reading this Christmas with added sparkle, Book Monster review.

Merry Christmas to all my followers, thank you for a wonderful year!



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