These stories are warm and delightfully different approaches to the Christmas season, and each carries its own moral which children will easily be able to understand and appreciate. There is also humour to be found here and each of the stories is illustrated with clear and charming drawings, which will definitely appeal to the reader. Sue Hampton herself did the illustrations for ‘Aliens and Angels’, whilst the other two stories have drawings by children from two local First Schools. All three tales offer a perfect introduction to the true meaning of Christmas.
In Aliens and Angels Robbie longs to be an angel in the Christmas pageant at school, but, after his long blond curls are cut off he thinks it will never happen. He is cast as an alien in the play, but just can’t seem to get the actions right. His best friend Hannah wants to be an alien rather than an angel … and then on the night before the play, they both discover that ‘Nothing can stop them’ achieving their dreams.
Not without a Carrot! is a re-telling of the nativity story as seen through the eyes of Trouble the donkey. Trouble will only work if he’s rewarded with carrots, but, after he carries Mary to Bethlehem, he forgets all about carrots and is proud to work for nothing when he is part of the miracle of the baby Jesus’s birth. From then on his cry is no longer ‘Not without carrots’ but instead he unselfishly declares ‘Not without the baby!’
And finally in Bootee for Etta, Etta is left with neighbours on Christmas Day when her mother is rushed into hospital and her Dad is working in New York. Etta is sad and unhappy, particularly when being teased by Pavel, the neighbours’ son. Then, in a cracker Etta finds a tiny box with a little lamb inside – just when she has been longing for her own toy lamb from home. When Pavel finds the box, he sees something completely different inside it, and then Etta’s Dad finds another box on the plane bringing him home. The contents of these boxes change all of their lives forever …