Review 22: Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by J. R. R. Tolkien

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About the author and illustrator

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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd January 1892 in Bloemfontein. He moved to England when he was three years old and was home schooled with his younger brother and taught by his mother. Tolkien served in the First World War and after the war he established a distinguished academic career and was recognised as one of the finest philologists in the world. He is best known as the creator of Middle Earth and the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He was awarded a CBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University in 1972. He died on 2nd September 1973 at the age of 81.

Blurb

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 a strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful colour drawing. They were from Father Christmas, telling 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 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 age Man in it fall into the back garden.
  • How there were wars with the troublesome horse of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house!

Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories.

Review

I got this book off my best friend for my birthday as she knows I love all things Tolkien and she knew I had not got this book. I am so pleased I saved this book for Christmas as it really put me in a Festive mood and made me smile from ear to ear.

The first letter in the book is sent in 1920 to John, Tolkien’s oldest child and we meet Father Christmas, the letter is only short but there is a beautiful drawing of Father Christmas that could easily be made into a Christmas card. There is then a gap and the next letter is in 1923, then basically from then on there is a letter until 1943 when Tolkien’s children are all too old for Father Christmas.

The first letters are sent to just John and then Michael and Christopher are added and finally Priscilla, although as each child reaches a certain age and they stop writing to Father Christmas they are dropped off the letters. Although good old Father Christmas always asks after the older children and pets in the house, so they are not forgotten.

Some letters are very short if Father Christmas is busy that year and some are very long, especially if Father Christmas has a tale to tell the children. Father Christmas has a helper called Polar Bear who is in fact a Polar Bear, a very special bear who does not age and is very strong but also rather clumsy and causes poor Father Christmas a great deal of extra work. Eventually Father Christmas also gets some Elves to help him get everything ready for Christmas.

The effort Tolkien put into the letters is amazing, the handwriting is unique to Father Christmas and is shaky like a very old man is writing and the illustrations are stunning. I loved reading all the letters and I can imagine how Tolkien’s children must have been so excited when the letters arrived each year. It really is like magic, Tolkien made sure his children believed in the wonder of magic and fairytales, the things all children should believe in and let their imaginations run wild.

This edition of the book is beautiful, it has all the pictures of the original letters so we can see all the handwriting Tolkien created and opposite is a typed up version so the reader can read the text with ease. Then there are also all the illustrations in colour with the letters. The fact that the book is also printed on excellent quality shiny paper is perfect for showing off Tolkien’s work.

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I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because of the magic and beauty it had but it did not get the full 5 stars because it made me sad at the end when the children were too old for letters off Father Christmas. In my opinion you are never too old for Father Christmas and believing in the magic.

Lady Book Dragon.

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Christmas Reading List

Happy Advent! Today is the first day of Advent and so the Christmas reading has begun.

And here it is! My Christmas reading list.

I am very excited and I can not wait for tomorrow. I will see how my reading goes as I might add to the list as December goes on. The Christmas reading list runs from 1st December to 6th January when the Christmas decorations come down.

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

I chose this one because I read a short story by Venronica Henry recently and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would try one of her Christmas books.

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Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

My best friend bought me this book for my birthday present and I have been saving it for my Christmas read. I am really excited about this as I absolutely adore Tolkien.

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Five at the Office Christmas Party by Bruno Vincent (based on the characters created by Enid Blyton)

These books are my guilty pleasure, I think I have read them all apart from this one, as again I have been saving it for Christmas.

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Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Not really a Christmas book I know but I could not resist. This book is so beautiful and special I just thought it was ideal for Christmas reading. Also the new Mary Poppins film Mary Poppins Returns is out soon and one of my saxophone students plays one of the children in the film, so I thought I had better read the book.

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Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo

I am a bit of a Morpurgo fan and when I saw this book I had to have it. I do love children’s books they always make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I found this book by complete accident as I was looking online for another book called Coming Home and this came up in the search. Hopefully it will be a lucky find.

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Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr

This was chosen quite simply because I have very fond memories of reading Mog stories to my neice and nephews. I have missed Mog so much I decided to buy this as a little treat to myself.

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The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann

Here is the big finale! As I have mentioned in a previous post I always read a new version of The Nutchracker on the run up to Christmas and here is my new copy. Another pretty book, I do love pretty books.

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I would love to hear if anybody else has a Christmas reading list. Please feel free to post a link to your blog in the comments.

Happy Advent and Happy Reading.

Lady Book Dragon