Barrington Stoke style themselves the home of ‘Super Readable Books’ and based on the two that dropped onto my doormat for me to review this weekend, I cannot disagree.
Regular readers of this blog will already know that I am a long term fan of the publishing house and everything they stand for. What’s not to admire with books that are perfectly designed for all age ranges and abilities? Stories that are tested on the children they’re actually aimed at rather than adults? Dyslexia friendly fonts and winning partnerships between authors and illustrators that just lift the stories to another level altogether?
First up for review this week is Anthony McGowan’s I Killed Father Christmas.
Jo-Jo is having a terrible Christmas Eve. Mum and dad are fighting, and he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. Then, worse than that, he comes to the conclusion that Father Christmas has been killed, and that’s his fault too.
Jo-Jo knows he has to save Christmas and the rest of the story maps out his attempt to do just that.
There are many things to love about this story, not least, the glorious illustrations by Chris Riddell on every page.
Then there is the fact that this is a genuinely affecting, properly Christmassy story but which avoids excessive schmaltz and sugariness. I love the fact that the story is so real, and that there is a well balanced mixture of dark moments and happiness, which makes the sweet spots all the more emotionally punchy.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story has depth of emotional intelligence which meant that I as an adult reader got as much from it as the child listener but on a different level. It’s very well crafted and a thoroughly satisfying read.
It’s available from Barrington Stoke via the link above, or from Amazon. Barrington Stoke have the first chapter available to read on their site if you want to browse before buying. The book is suitable for 5-8 year olds as independent readers, or younger if you’re looking for a wonderful Christmas tale to share at story time.