9 Dec 2011



Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien's children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautifully coloured drawing or some sketches.

The letters were from Father Christmas.

{They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas's house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house!}
........ Inner front cover (Please note the above may contain too much information for those wishing to read the book, if you wish to read then simply highlight the section in brackets).

FIRST Letter (Page 6): Christmas House, North Pole,
22nd December 1920

Dear John,
I heard you ask daddy what I was like and where I lived. I have drawn me and my house for you. Take care of the picture. I am just off now for Oxford with my bundle of toys - some for you. Hope I shall arrive in time: the snow is very thick at the North Pole tonight. Your loving Father Christmas.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 78): ........ Father Christmas was taking a last look round in the English Delivery Room about 10 o'clock when water poured through the ceiling and swamped everything: it was soon 6 inches deep on the floor. Polar Bear had simply got into the bath with both taps running and gone fast asleep with one hind paw on the overflow. He had been asleep two hours when we woke him.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Husband dearest's book, I know he will not be wanting to part with this.

Obviously a very proud dad, Tolkien's love for his children shines through in this delightful book which he wrote and illustrated for them.

Keeping the children updated with the happenings at the North Pole, the letters, some much longer than others, are mainly written by Father Christmas (Tolkien) and, when he is too busy, his elf secretary, Ilbereth, with contributions from the North Polar Bear (aka referred to as NPB), I loved that the letters incorporated mention of actual real world events such as this 1940 post-war entry in which Father Christmas writes ........

This horrible war is reducing all our stocks, and in so many countries children are living far from their homes.

Chronicling  the adventures of not only FC himself but also, my favourite character, the North Pole Bear who is forever having mishaps of kind or another (amongst other things he breaks his leg one year, takes the skin off his nose another year and, as mentioned in my memorable moment, manages to flood the English Delivery Room another), the letters also tell the  tales of NPB's nephews, Pasku and Valkotukka, The Snow Man, and, of course, this being Tolkien, a smattering of elves, goblins and gnomes.

Written between December 1920 and December 1940, this is an updated version in which, though we are given only a few examples of Father Christmas's actual writing, we get to see replicas of almost all of the pictures that were sent including NPB's alphabet which he devised from Goblin drawings on the walls of the caves where he was lost.

A delightful read, I know I was totally charmed by it, Tolkien's writing, though filled with such love for his children, is, dare I say it, somewhat formal and proper, no, it's the actual pictures themselves that make this such a beautiful book for me - detailed, colourful, intricate, and yet somehow almost childlike at the same time they really bring life to the letters.

The 102nd book read in my 100+ Reading Challenge and the 5th in my Christmas Spirit Challenge.


Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

sounds like a charming book.

this sure is a little gem.
i'd definitely enjoy reading it; sinking deep into my chair by the fireplace...can't wait to purchase this.

have a good weekend and stay warm.

big hugs!

Vivienne said...

I bought this for my girls a couple of years ago, but I don't think they ever read it. I shall definitely pilfer from them.

chitra said...

Just love the Christmas calender though I forget to open it everyday.
Been to Australia.Loved it.
travel time here. see you

GMR said...

Lovely post...definitely the first time I've heard of it. Will be adding to my "must-check-out" list promptly as it sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for sharing!

joan said...

lovely, must refrain this time from buying You'll have me bankrupt
Just had delivery of The Stupidest Angel, trying not to start it yet, i want to savour it first lol
thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog, I was truely touched

naida said...

I'm a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. This sounds so sweet. I'll have to add it to my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I haven't read this one! Oh and it sounds perfect for my Tolken loving cousin with 2 young boys! Thanks for the review!

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like a great book! And the fact that it's by J.R.R. Tolkien is even more of a draw for me.

Suko said...

This sounds like a charming book of letters and illustrations! Very nice review. :)

Kelly said...

This sounds like such a fun book! I enjoyed your review.

Monalisa said...

I'll excuse my unfamiliarity with christmas stories, but I'm really very curious. This one sounds to be a good read.. Looking forward for more christmas reads

Mamakucingbooks said...

Hey! It's a good idea with the highlight thingy. I never thought of doing that. Thanks :)