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The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller

I do love a wee heart-warming Christmas story and this one was no exception.  The Night I Met Father Christmas is visually stunning, the beautiful cover enticing you in from the moment you spy it on the shelf.  The snow-flaked edged pages make you feel like you’re in a Christmassy snow storm and the illustrations throughout by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini are quite marvellous, reminiscent of books I remember from my youth.

The story itself is about a young boy, Jackson, who has a raft of questions he wants to ask Father Christmas and his curiosity means he endeavours to stay up to meet the man in question.   When they finally meet we are taken on a charming and life-affirming journey, following a grumpy and mean little elf called Torvil.  Throughout the tale we are introduced to many magical and wondrous characters (including my favourite – the talking, walking fir tree) as we follow Torvil’s journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Following in the footsteps of A Christmas Carol, our main character is taken on a journey of self-reflection and comes out the other end a better person (or elf). But far from feeling clichéd or predictable, The Night I Met Father Christmas is a quirky wee tale full of its own wit and charm.

This is an enchanting and magical book and a wonderfully enjoyable read.  It is a delightful Christmas tale that I would absolutely recommend to get you in the festive mood!

A Pattern of Secrets by Lindsay Littleson Ages 8-12 Cranachan Publishing

A Pattern of Secrets is an honest account of Victorian life which poses questions about inequality, compassion and morality.
Set in Paisley, Scotland in 1876, it tells the story of 12 year old Jim and his battle to save his family from a desperate future. We first meet the Muir family after Jim’s father, Frank, has lost his job as a weaver at the Rowat’s factory and the family are facing eviction from their flat. With nowhere else to go the family end up at the Poorhouse where Frank and Jim are swiftly separated from the rest of the family and put to work.
As Jim battles to rescue his family from the grim reality they face, he pins his hopes on finding a Paisley patterned shawl that he believes contains hidden money in its seams.
As we follow Jim’s story we are introduced to Jessie Rowat, a girl whose wealthy background is a stark contrast to Jim’s. The two characters go on to develop an unlikely bond, based on understanding, kindness and a shared experience of loss.
The harsh realities of Victorian life are vividly brought to life as we follow Jim’s struggles to save his family and, although the difference in Jim and Jessies’ background is huge, we discover that Jessie has had plenty of struggles of her own to face.
Although set over 140 years ago, A Pattern of Secrets focusses on themes that are still relevant today. Jim and Jessie, two characters from very different backgrounds, demonstrate the importance of understanding and empathy as they discover they have more in common than they thought and Jim’s determination shows a level of reilience and perseverance that sends a positive message to us all.
One of the things I loved about this book was the way in which historical facts, locations and characters are entertwined with fiction. This creates an utterly believable and relevant story with characters you empathise with and will to succeed.
Overall, A Pattern of Secrets is a fantastically gripping historical adventure that provides an excellent insight into Victorian life, while its themes of compassion, resilience and empathy make it a relevant and must read novel.

Children's Book Reviews