The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes

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The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: An utterly charming tale of growing up in 1930s Liverpool, with atmosphere by the bucketload and Shirley Hughes' usual beautiful illustrations. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Walker
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1406320633

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Bronwen and Dylan live in the poor part of 1930s Liverpool. Their mam takes in washing to make ends meet, and often has to leave them alone whilst she's pushing the big old pram full of washing to the part of the city where the well-off people live. They're under strict instructions to have nothing to do with their neighbours, the O'Rileys. Then, on Christmas Eve, when they're alone, Bronwen and Dylan hear a plonk, plonk, plonk and are sure it's a ghost...

Is there any book fan who doesn't love Shirley Hughes? Not us. We adore her! We've been looking forward to The Christmas Eve Ghost since she mentioned it in our interview with her last year. It has everything you'd expect from her: a gentle pace, but with depth and heart by the bucketloads, lashings of atmosphere, and a keen eye and ear for childhood. It's beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, and will immediately become a firm favourite - not just for reading at Christmas, but throughout the year.

As it draws on her memories of growing up in Liverpool, The Christmas Eve Ghost is as much about the overall experience as the story itself. An old way of life, the divisions between rich and poor and between religions, of community, of hardship, even just the excitement of what a mangle was for - all add to the atmosphere. It's all just utterly delightful, never mawkish or overly sentimental, and cries out to be read and shared.

The text is much longer than that usually found in picture books, making it best suited for children who are on the cusp of reading for themselves and beyond. However, such are the quality of the writing and the beauty of the pictures that younger children will be engaged for longer than they might otherwise have been. It's a Shirley Hughes book that is as much of a must-read as you would expect; is there really anything else you need to know? Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

For another much-loved favourite with a Christmas theme - although very different in so many other ways - check out Elmer and Papa Red by David McKee. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is another must-read. Christmas classics you say? How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss, The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora and Clement Clarke Moore, The First Christmas by Jan Pienkowski, and Nut Cracker by David Walser and Jan Pienkowski are all magnificent choices. We're also big fans of The Happiest Man in the World or the Mouse Who Made Christmas by Mij Kelly and Louise Nisbet, Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche and Cub's First Winter by Rebecca Elliott. Shirley Hughes illustrated The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton.

Booklists.jpg The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2010.

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Buy The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Christmas Eve Ghost by Shirley Hughes at


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