Bookshelf Quality Fiction

One Christmas Wish

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If you had a Christmas wish what would it be? Would you wish for gifts, food or maybe even snow days? In Katherine Rundell’s book, ‘One Christmas Wish’, Theodore has an opportunity to make a special Christmas Eve wish of his own, a wish that turns into a magical Christmas adventure. 

Once again, Theo’s parents are working late on Christmas Eve and he is left alone in the care of his rather neglectful babysitter. Whilst decorating the family Christmas tree with antique ornaments and gazing out of the window, Theodore seizes the opportunity to make a wish on a shooting star. He wishes with every inch of his heart not to be lonely, to be with somebody, to be un-alone. No sooner then the wish has been spoken, it is magically granted. The ornaments on the tree stretch and come to life- their mission, to keep Theodore company on Christmas Eve. 

One Christmas wish can turn into an extraordinary experience when a rocking horse, a robin, an angel and a tin soldier become your friends. Theodore receives just what he wanted for Christmas and in return his Christmas Eve becomes a quest to help his new playmates with their seasonal wishes. Each decoration appears to need something to make it complete again, whilst the rocking horse has an insatiable appetite for eating everything (including chewing through the cables of the Christmas trees lights), the little Robin has forgotten how to sing; the sweet angel has broken wings and the tin soldier misses his true love. Theodore is able to help each of his new friends find exactly what they need and in return, he finds the companionship he desperately craves.

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After a hectic evening of mischief and magic, Theodore wakes on Christmas morning to find that the restorative magic of the shooting star has stretched beyond the Christmas Eve adventure and has helped create a miraculous Christmas morning.  Theo’s parents have caught the Christmas spirit and the home has been transformed into a festive wonderland of decorations, presents, music and food. Theo and his parents share mugs of hot cocoa around the tree and settle in for a Christmas never to be forgotten. Their experiences have helped them to learn that the real treasures are the people in our lives, and the best gift you can give is the gift of your time.

Katherine Rundell’s book, ‘One Christmas Wish’, is a modern Christmas fable and Emily Sutton’s beautiful illustrations, in her characteristic 1950’s style, make this tale feel like a real Christmas classic. The story is a heartwarming reminder that Christmas is more than the gifts and the trimmings, it is a season of love and goodwill. Readers might imagine and write about their own Christmas dilemmas and wishes, create their own magical Christmas decoration characters and plan their own enchanted Christmas Eve adventures. This is a lovely book to read with any KS2 class.

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One Christmas Wish  Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781408885734

The Clockwork Crow

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Whilst waiting for a train to take her to a new life in Wales, a mysterious stranger asks orphan, Seren, to look after a strange parcel. Reaching the remote country house which is to be her new home, Seren quickly realises that it is not going to hold the ‘happy-ever-after’ life she has dreamed of and that there is definitely something strange going on. Unwrapping the parcel and finding a strange clockwork crow inside, Seren finds herself embroiled in an enchanted world, on a mission she must succeed in if she is to bring happiness back to her new home.

Dripping with magic and enchantment, ‘The Clockwork Crow’ is a wonderfully concise, beautifully crafted tale, rich in echoes of the old stories. Reading like a Gothic novel, there are many shivery moments of suspense - a forbidden wing, a devastating family tragedy- and detective moments worthy of Holmes. Fantasy and fairy tale then mingle with the reality as Seren enters the beautiful, but dangerous Celtic Otherworld. The Crow is a fabulous character- cantankerous and sarcastic- a challenge to Seren, provoking her to action and bravery.

Catherine Fisher is an amazing author. ‘The Snow Walker’s Son’ remains one of my favourite books and ‘The Obsidian Mirror’ books are a complete joy. ‘The Clockwork Crow’ is a worthy title to sit alongside these.

The Clockwork Crow Catherine Fisher

Firefly Press ISBN: 978-1910080849

Brightstorm

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Life changes dramatically for twelve-year-old twins, Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm, when their father fails to return from his expedition to South Polaris. As he is accused of breaking the explorer’s code, everything is taken from them, leaving them homeless and vulnerable. However, resourceful and determined, the twins refuse to accept their fate and set out to clear the Brightstorm name. To do this, they must persuade another sky-ship captain to let them join the crew of an expedition to South Polaris. Answering an advert-

Individuals Wanted
For treacherous journey to South Polaris,
Small wages, certain danger,
Shared reward and recognition if successful. 

-the twins find themselves on the Aurora, serving under Harriet Culpepper and their adventure begins…

There is so much to recommend this story. Fast paced adventure and a cast of captivating characters grab the imagination from the outset. At the heart of the action are the twins: Maudie is a talented engineer, fascinated by how things work, creator of a mechanical arm for her book-loving brother, Arthur, who is sensitive, thoughtful and tenacious. Reversal of gender stereotyping and the inclusion of a character with disability are both skilfully integrated as a natural part of the story. Felicity, the sky-ship cook, the fabulous sky captain, Harriet Culpepper, the deliciously dark, Eudora Vane… there are so many characters worthy of comment! The sapient creatures of the story are also well drawn from the beautiful hawk, Parthena to the stunning thought wolves.

The Brightstorm world is brilliantly brought to life, vividly described and imagined as the twins follow their adventure, facing peril and discovering friendship along the way. A brilliant read aloud or quality fiction text, ‘Brightstorm’ is a gift for teachers looking for an engaging story. I can’t wait to read the adventures Maudie and Arthur get up to next!

Brightstorm Vashti Hardy

Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407181707