'Twas the Fight Before Christmas: A Parody by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

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'Twas the Fight Before Christmas: A Parody by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

Category: Humour
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A grown-up modern day take on a classic that may not have the poetic consistency of the original, but romps through all the parental pitfalls of the festive season with a charm that will ensure it will be brought out for an annual reading.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472125118

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It's Christmas Eve and Mum has arranged everything. All she now has to do is await the arrival of the relatives and the food shopping delivery. Little does Mum know that those two elements alone have the potential to ruin everything.

This is the age of the parody book: tomes taken from our childhood and rewritten with adult-appealing twists and varying degrees of hilarity. The superlative Ladybird book fun homages were first, next taking us towards adult takes on Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Now husband and wife authors, having given us The Very Hungover Caterpillar and We're Going on a Bar Hunt take on a classic poem and Christmas Eve staple The Night Before Christmas.

All Christmas family life is definitely here between these covers. There are offspring who would rather be glued to their electronic media than help the chores and that niggling first world worry: will the supermarket delivery turn up? The latter is even turned into a cleverly inserted, cliff hanger of a refrain. However this is all thrown into comparative insignificance by the arrival of Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue.

The problem is that Bob and Sue are a double Yuletide time bomb. They aren't just relatives: they're freshly divorced relatives… divorced from each other. Yes, we're in retaliatory sniping country and a form of address that any of us who have been divorced or witnessed others going through it will recognise at once. Although we probably didn't do it in rhyme and it probably wasn't half as much fun to watch as this is!

The humour creeps in gently making this a book to smile at rather than laugh to. Having said that, the episode with Gran, the twins and the popcorn, did raise an audible snigger. (No spoilers – read it yourself for that bit.)

There is a minor poetry alert. Set against the fun are a couple of not wholly convincing rhymes and another couple of moments during which the rhyming ceases to scan for a few lines. This may make us wince for a moment or two yet even these momentary ouches are lifted by the wonderful illustrations from Gillian Johnson (unfortunately no relation). They're bright, evocative and reminiscent of the brilliant Quentin Blake.

Due to its charm being more encapsulated in evoking the zeitgeist of Christmas prep and guests than a bid for belly laughs, this book will make a lovely little adult stocking filler. I'd best add something here: adult due to a certain level of age being required to get the full joy out of the situations rather than through any graphic content. The content is clean and guaranteed not to scare any horses. Indeed I can see this taking a place in annual tradition in the same way as the annual classic. It may not be as great, but it's just as warm and definitely gets us in the mood for whatever December 25th may bring.

(Thank you, Constable for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It's worth going back to the original treat-worthy The Night Before Christmas if you'd like something you can share with the young 'uns or even if you haven't read it yourself. If you'd just like to continue along the the adult parody path, then try Nightlight: A Parody of Twilight by The Harvard Lampoon.

Buy 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas: A Parody by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas: A Parody by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees at Amazon.co.uk.


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