Book Review Series: Christmas Bells and Hero Tails
This book immediately appealed to me; I thought reading a children’s Christmas book together as a family would be a fun way to start getting excited about the holidays. My husband agreed, and we planned to read one chapter of this book a night with our daughters. This did not go to plan. After every single chapter, my ears met the most sincere and desperate pleas, “One more chapter, mum…. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssse! I’ll be so good. I’ll share, I’ll eat my whole dinner….please just read one more chapter. I need to know what Buddy does next! Please, mum! Please?”
I had fantasies of my children eating broccoli without argument. Dare I try Brussels sprouts? But no. Although the story was excellent, it was not powerful enough to result in major broccoli-eating. I didn’t even try the spouts (which is okay, because I don’t like Brussels sprouts). But it did improve in small broccoli bites, which was only one of the delights that came from reading this tale.
The story is simple enough- a friendly rat finds himself living in with a family after escaping a hungry hawk. This escape / rescue is produced by grasping a quick ride on the back of a small family dog. The dog belongs to Caroline, who lives with her grandparents. Adventures continue with Buddy the rat, and his new friend, Toby the dog- as they enjoy each other’s company and look for ways to make life even more beautiful. I loved how the author described the “Family Song”—from the clicking of knitting needles to the decorating of the Christmas tree, it made me think about the hum of my own household, and what sounds create a happy “Family Song,” and what sounds mean there is disharmony about.
The story was not overly complicated, the language was easy to understand and my 7 year old was able to read it on her own, although she preferred to share the magic in listening to my husband and I taking turns reading aloud. There is no mention of Santa and there is a preacher, but his religious affiliation is undisclosed and vague, making it suitable for those who believe in Santa or not, or are of religious affiliation or not. I recommend this book as a great choice for families to read leading up to the family season, especially those with children between the ages of 5 and 12.
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