|White Christmas (Lucky Wish Mouse) by Clara Vulliamy|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Ruth Price|
|Summary: Beautifully packaged like a Christmas present, a charming story of ten tiny mice worrying about whether their Christmas stockings will be filled, complete with a tiny mouse to hold while enjoying the story. The mouse is easily lost, though, which is why I don't recommend this book for borrowing. Ignore the 'collect the set' exhortation, but enjoy the lovely, detailed pictures and gentle story. Would especially appeal to girls aged between 3-5. Bear in mind that it's very much geared for Christmas, which limits its year-round appeal.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 32||Date: October 2008|
|Publisher: Orchard Books|
Opening this sweet children's book is like opening a present – there are even ties to undo when you open the pages, and it feels quite boxy because – it contains a box! (More of the box's contents later). The front cover artwork is beautiful – in wintry pastel shades which appear throughout the book, it's lush with tactile, sparkly snow which is eminently stroke-able. Inside, we are introduced to Lucky Wish Mouse and her ten Tinies (baby mice) on Christmas Eve.
What follows is a simple and comforting story for younger book sharers which I share below so you can judge if it's right for you child – if you don't want a spoiler, skip the rest of this paragraph! When the Tinies go to bed (at 6.15pm) they are very worried when their Christmas stockings are still empty ages later (at 6.20pm). Eventually, the tiniest Tiny is persuaded by her siblings to go out into the snow to find those longed-for presents. Tiny searches and searches and eventually gets lost in a snowdrift, but the reader already knew Lucky Wish Mouse knew what was happening so it's not unduly scary for the tots. Tiny is safely brought home to the other nine Tinies, who were all feeling bad about sending Tiny out in the snow. They all agree that having empty Christmas stockings isn't important, as long as they have each other. Of course, while the tucked-up Tinies sleep, the house gets a visit from a mouse dressed in red with a sack filled with …
I see White Christmas as a pleasant bedtime story for the littlies, with the best part of the fun to be had looking at the pictures – there are lots of early counting activities – ten Tinies means 10 cups of cocoa, 10 stockings, 10 pairs of shoes, 10 snowflakes, etc – so plenty to inspire early numeracy and repeated reading of the story (despite it being Christmas-themed - buy it in late November if you can stand it!). I particularly liked the 10 Christmas lists, as they showed pictures of the different items each Tiny wants, leaving lots to discuss for parents and children sharing this book. There's plenty of subtle humour, and the narrative is simple and warm, but rhyming text would have put this book on a higher level.
Now - you want to know what is in that box, don't you? Well, dear reader, at the back of the book, encased in a tiny matchbox (no matches) is a tiny Tiny toy mouse. In tiny, tiny print on the tiny, tiny matchbox, it says Put me under your pillow and wish for the most magical Christmas ever!. I would humbly suggest that parents read it as Play with me while you are reading this book and then place me back in the matchbox in this book to keep me safe. You know what would happen otherwise, don't you? You'd have a lost mouse, a wailing child, and a book with bits missing!
Potential purchasers should also note that on the back of the book there is a warning about the book not being suitable for children under 36 months because of small parts. So, no swallowing the tiny mouse – you've been warned! It's a tricky one, because using a linked toy or finger puppet in conjunction with reading a story works really well for early readers – I wonder if they could have found a way of permanently attaching the tiny mouse to the book to avoid the risk of loss. Like a little mouse bookmark on a cord?
On the same page that contains the matchbox, in much bigger letters, is the legend Collect all the Lucky Wish Mice!, with in smaller print, Find out more at orchardbooks.co.uk (I looked, and couldn't find out more, by the way) – so what we have in the volume is a fledgling (or baby mouse-ling) series, with White Christmas the first, I believe. As there are ten tiny mice, presumably there are ten future books planned? The young readers of this book haven't normally got the collecting bug in the way that older children do – so I am not sure how this will work – unless the collecting is a marketing strategy for parents. I did find this slightly annoying. I am not even quite sure of the title of this book – I think it's White Christmas, but Lucky Wish Mouse is in a bigger font than the title – a bit brand-heavy for this age group. And what is a Lucky Wish Mouse anyway - apart from the mum of ten tiny mice?
These quibbles aside, I'd like to thank the publisher, Orchard Books, for supplying the Bookbag with White Christmas, which will surely make a fine stocking-filler for many early readers, especially girls.
Update: A new hardback edition is available. You don't get the tiny mouse (or the suggestions to collect the whole set), but the front cover is very sparkly!
For further reading, if you are particularly seeking a Christmas-themed book to share, Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester-Clark fits the bill admirably. If you want to capitalise on a child's love of counting (and this is one of the best aspects of White Christmas, though quite subtly done), the Bookbag loves The Selfish Crocodile Counting Book by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry. There is also an element of counting in the delightful The Bear With Sticky Paws by Clara Vulliamy, another book for sharing by White Christmas's author.
You can read more book reviews or buy White Christmas (Lucky Wish Mouse) by Clara Vulliamy at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy White Christmas (Lucky Wish Mouse) by Clara Vulliamy at Amazon.com.
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