Posted in Book review, Books, Christmas, Reading, Reading Challenge 2020

Reading Challenge 2020: Letters From Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien

Hey Loves!

Happy December! 🎅 🎄 Can you believe we are in the final month of 2020. What a strange and unique year it has been for so many reasons. Whilst the majority of this year has been spent apart, I’ve never felt closer to my blogging community. Together we’ve read and written and kept our own sense of normality going. It’s been really truly wonderful.

I must apologise for the absence. Anyone in education right now will tell you how challenging it is. I’ve been reading to keep my sane but the writing aspect has escaped me. I’ve written posts and deleted them, getting stuck half way.

However, I’m here today to share with you my book choice for the Reading Challenge 2020. The theme for this month was: Time for a festive story to close the year. The book I chose was Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien. There’s so many things I love about this book, I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about it.

What’s it all about?

First of all, I genuinely think this is one of the most beautiful editions of a book I own. This version is the centenary edition, published on the 100 year anniversary of the first letter ever sent to Tolkien’s eldest son, John, in 1920. It includes pictures of the letters, envelopes and drawings that Tolkien did for his children from 1920-1943. Every December, a envelope would arrive bearing a stamp from the North Pole and a letter from Father Christmas.

These letters are so utterly beautiful and magical that it was really hard for me not to pick them all to write about. However, that would ruin this remarkable book for everyone else. As well as writing from Father Christmas, we also see entries from the Polar Bear and one of the elves too. Each character is unique, their voice clear, their hearts pure.

“Inside you will find a magic wishing cracker: pull and wish for what you want, and see if you don’t get it next Christmas.”

Polar Bear gets himself into all sorts or antics, for he seems to be quite clumsy. The year 1925 shows us how the Polar Bear went onto the roof to collect Father Christmas’s hood that had blown off in bad weather, only to fall through the roof and into the house. Not only did the Polar Bear fall in, but vast amounts of snow did too causing the fires to go out and the cellar being flooded where all the toys were for that year.

In 1926, the reindeer broke loose and escaped. What would Father Christmas do without them? We see how they have ran away, throwing presents all around and tossing them in the air. We see worries from Father Christmas and hope that theirs aren’t broken. Christmas is a huge operation that with everyone helping out, even the Snowman.

“The Snow Man is addressing our envelopes this year. He is Father Christmas’s gardener – but we don’t get much but snowdrops and frost-ferns to grow here. He always writes in white, just with his finger.”

With each year that passes, another letter arrives and we see the acknowledgement that the children are getting older. In 1928, Father Christmas mentions John, who he believes is too old to write so guessed his presents. Chris and Michael are still sending him letters though, keeping the magic alive. We also see the reference to many more children being born with Father Christmas mentioning how different countries like England, Norway and Denmark, to name a few, have more children than previous Christmases. We see the joy and fears, the excitement and worries of Father Christmas. The writing throughout really brings him and the Polar Bear to life. 

“It is a good thing that clocks don’t tell the same time all over the world or I should never get around, although when my magic is strongest – at Christmas – I can do about a thousand stockings a minute, if I have it all planned out beforehand.”

1933 brings about a new problem: goblins. In the previous year, the goblins were severely punished for stealing all the presents. Polar Bear said he could smell something bad and as a result, became incredibly restless. One evening, the goblins had set fire to the stores and captured several gnomes in the process. They also broke into the stables and stole the reindeer! Thankfully Polar Bear was there to save the day.

 Towards the end of the book in 1936, we see the new addition of red and green elves living with Father Christmas to help with the packing. Ilbereth the elf pens a letter to tell the children all about their adventures and excitements. Unfortunately, after working quite hard Polar Bear became quite tired and fancied a bath. He fell asleep, covering the overflow, causing a huge flood in the Delivery Room. Disaster! 

“Well, there is one thing: those children at Northpole Road, Oxford (he always says that) may lose some of their presents, but they will have a letter worth hearing this year.”

Towards the end, Father Christmas is just writing to Priscilla. I found this part of the book most poignant and it made me a bit teary actually. Growing up is inevitable and it means we lose the magic of Christmas. The final letter is Father Christmas saying goodbye. 

“I suppose you will be hanging up your stocking just once more: I hope so for I still have a few little things for you. After this I shall have to say “goodbye”, more or less: I mean I shall not forget you…”

And with this, the letters stop and the novel ends. 

Final Thoughts
Well, what a way to finish and complete my Reading Challenge 2020! What a beautiful, magical, sublime little book. It made me value the traditions I made with my own family at Christmas. I also really wished that I had something like this as a little girl too. Imagine being fortunate enough to grow up with this. Sadly, as we all know, growing up means we lose the magic of Christmas. However, for me, a little part of it has remained alive because of this book. I love Christmas and this book has got me right in the festive mood. Two weeks of school left…

Continue to keep safe and well everyone.

As always, big love to you all. xx

Author:

“From that moment on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again.”

32 thoughts on “Reading Challenge 2020: Letters From Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. Wow! Charley, thank you for sharing this gem of a book! Just reading your wonderful review has brought some of the magic of Christmas alive for me! The book looks stunning and one to savour for a lifetime. A superlative review and your love for the book shines through … so much so I must read it! Off to put this on my Christmas list. Books are an imperative solace, more so now than ever and this one more so than most!

    You have done brilliantly this term and can only imagine how stressful and nerve-racking every single day must have been for you. Have a most relaxing and peaceful break during the holidays. hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Annika!
      It’s so wonderful to hear from you.
      Well, I found this book by pure chance and I just feel so lucky. It’s a gushing review really but I genuinely found it so magical and wonderful. I really hope you get a copy and an opportunity to read it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
      Aw thank you. We have 18 staff off currently out of 37 so it’s very very difficult. Two off in my own team. We just keep going! I hope you and your family are well. So so good to hear from you! Hugs! Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your review totally sold it to me! 😀 Yikes, that is a lot staff away and I can’t grasp how the school and staff can cope. You all have my admiration…l I feel quite the coward just trying to keep safe. Thank you, we are all well and just looking forward to Christmas, albeit without meeting my brother and family as usual. Planning a summer party instead! Hugs xx

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  2. Wowza! This book is awesome! Thanks for sharing it with us Charley! I tried it out and it was literally MINDBLOWING. And breathtaking. And all the other words related to amazing. When you review children’s books it’s just super rad. Go Charles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YEAH IKR!?😁🤗 I’ve never felt grateful for the blogging community as much as I have this year. It’s been truly remarkable.
    Especially since we’re locked inside, the socialising has been a wonderful thing to have.

    And ooo never heard of this book but sounds like an interesting and Chrismassy read❤🎄

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree that this is a fantastic Christmas book and it’s so heartwarming that Tolkien put so much effort into these letters. I listened to the audiobook version this year and I really want to get the physical version so I can see all the pictures.

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