Review Blog

Dec 10 2015

Queen Victoria's Christmas by Jackie French

cover image

Ill. by Bruce Whatley. HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780732293581
Strange things are happening at the Palace, things that have the Palace dogs puzzled. There's baking and decorating, people singing, crackers that rip and make a big noise, and the dogs themselves are being subjected to all sorts of indignities. Then the weirdest thing arrives - an enormous green tree that is placed in a pot. What can a dog so with that? Not what dogs usually do to trees, that's for sure.
But at last the doors are opened and all is revealed. Well, almost. The greatest surprise comes when the dogs do what dogs do and have the most marvellous payback for their inglorious suffering.
Once again the talents of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have combined to bring a funny, charming story that paves the way for investigating the origins of so many of our Christmas traditions that were brought here from a very different time, place and climate as people tried to cling to the vestiges of what they knew as they pioneered a strange, new land. Cards, crackers, paper hats, Christmas puddings and cakes and the magnificently decorated tree were all part of the British Christmas and they have been woven into this story in rhyme in a delightful way. Whatley's illustrations which mirror the style and shades of the time are perfectly perfect.
A wonderful story and a wonderful starter for a timely inquiry.
Barbara Braxton

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