A Toy Christmas compiled and edited by Sophie Masson

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Christmas Press, 2016. ISBN 9780994234063
(Age: 6+) Recommended. In her introduction Sophie Masson talks about the magic of toys at Christmas and this collection of stories certainly reflects that theme. Written by some well-known and not so well-known authors, (Natalie Jane Prior, Meredith Costain, Michael Grey, Fiona McDonald, Juliet Marillier, Anna Bell, Ian Irvine, Kathy Creamer, George Ivanoff, Goldie Alexander, David Allan, Rebecca Fung, and Beattie Alvarez) whose short biographies are given at the back of the book, this is a collection that begs to be dipped into for the variety of stories that can be found within its cover. Each story is illustrated in bright colours, adding to the appeal of the book.
As a fan of fantasy, I immediately used the Table of Contents to read the story, A real present, by Juliet Marillier, one of favourite authors. Jenny is a little girl who wants a present for the Thing under her bed, her best friend and comes up with a creative plan for a present. The story is redolent with the joy of imagination and the meaning of giving presents. Another by George Ivanoff caught my eye, and I was delighted to read Pudding Prize, extolling the old Christmas custom of putting a surprise in the Christmas pudding. In this Anna finds a tiny matryoshka, a Russian doll which symbolises fun and laughter and learns about the beautiful nesting dolls from Russia. Avi and the Chanukah surprise by Goldie Alexander will remind readers that many cultures do not celebrate Christmas, but have their own way of celebrating their customs. One that brought a tear to my eye was An unexpected gift by Michael Grey, where a little boy is given a toy that reminds him of his absent mother.
This is a collection that is well worth having in the library as it collects an engrossing range of Christmas stories, each quite different, but all quality, around the theme of toys. Readers and children who listen to the stories will be reminded that Christmas is not only a time of fun, but one of giving, of caring for the lonely and bereft and celebrating different customs.
Pat Pledger