Friday, October 10, 2014
Alfie's Christmas by Shirley Hughes (Red Fox Picture Books)
Alfie has, deservedly, been one of the best loved children's characters for generations and his awesome creator Shirley Hughes has a knack for creating the most charming and timeless stories.
I'm in awe of her illustrative style and her ease with storytelling so it's great to see a timely reprint from Red Fox of the sublime "Alfie's Christmas" getting us ready for our own family yuletide gathering.
Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose are preparing for the big day. Along with mum and dad, Alfie goes christmas shopping and makes decorations and cards for all his friends. There are secrets too as Alfie has to hide dad's special present (a plant in a wonderfully decorated pot) and mum's too (a lovely blue beaded necklace).
Though Annie Rose is too young to understand what Christmas is all about, she's soon swept up in the yuletide preparations and gets excited about the presents and the wrapping paper.
Christmas Eve arrives, and though there's no snow (which in a Christmas book is rare but actually quite realistic and refreshing to see, nice one Shirley!) Alfie snuggles down in bed eyes shut tight so that Santa will visit.
Annie Rose has other ideas though...!
We got drawn into this book, feeling at once like a traditional christmas tale but with timely observations and a goodly dose of family life to make it feel contemporary and relevant. It's part of why Shirley Hughes is such an important voice in children's literature, she has a canny knack for producing the sort of blissfully brilliant stories that both adults love to read, and children love to read and hear.
Charlotte's best bit: Great Uncle Will talking about an Australian christmas with sun, barbecues and koala bears!
Daddy's Favourite bit: Such utterly sublime storytelling, gorgeous artwork, from a truly inspirational lady! Awesome work Shirley!
(Kindly sent to us for review by Red Fox Picture Books)