‘Christmas Trolls‘ by Jan Brett (published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
This book by Jan Brett is a clever way of sharing with children that Christmas is about more than just presents and that the old ‘giving is better than receiving’ chestnut does actually have some truth behind it.
Although the setting is specified, the main characters’ names (Treva and her brother, Sami) and the presence of trolls, as well as the illustrations themselves, strongly suggest a Scandinavian influence. Treva and Sami and their parents are preparing for Christmas, but things keep mysteriously disappearing. After spying the Christmas pudding flying across the snow, Treva decides to follow the travelling treat and find out what’s happening.
She stumbles about Mig and Tig, two trolls who have been stealing Christmas goodies because they, “…want Christmas.” Their statement really reminds me of something that a young child might say after being caught doing something a bit naughty! Treva explains to them that Christmas isn’t something you can steal, but you can easily create a wonderful Christmas yourself.
She helps them to tidy up and to decorate a tree, but then the harder lesson comes – encouraging them to be happier by playing together rather than arguing all the time. She also, in an touchingly unselfish gesture, gives them her favourite toy as a present. The message that this sends – that it’s lovely to do things for other people and that feelings are more important than ‘things’ – is exactly the sort of thing I like C and H to appreciate at this time of year.
Treva leaves the trolls to rejoin her family for Christmas and, after later finding a toy horse on the doorstep that Tig and Mig have made for her, is left feeling that this really is the best Christmas ever.
The pictures in this book play a huge part in its comforting, festive feel. They are packed full of fun little details, like a brilliantly decorated Christmas tree – they’re the gift that keeps on giving! They also celebrate the simple, outdoorsy fun that can be had at Christmas – I know we’ll certainly be following this example as often as we can :)