Emily Sutton

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

A First Book of the Sea

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This is a beautiful book. Words and images mingle, creating memorable scenes full of colour and life. Gathered into four sections, there are poems and thoughts about many aspects of the sea- its beauty, the pleasure it offers, the life it holds and the human connection to it. There are poems here which will resonate with everyone.

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The first section of poems is entitled 'Down by the Shore'. Here there are poems about the beach, finding pebbles and shells, paddling, making sandcastles... The final poem in this group is 'All Day', a celebration of really looking at and listening to the sea in action as it makes contact with the shore. The picture shows a beach edged with more tropical vegetation than I am used to on my local beaches, but the sights and sounds described are so familiar that any child on any beach anywhere would recognise them. It would be lovely for those of us lucky enough to teach near to the sea to take photos of children like those in the picture and for children to develop their own poems and paintings based on these once back in the classroom.

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The next section is called 'Journeys'  and looks at the movement of both humans and creatures across the oceans. There is much to enjoy here- and much to learn! Do you know about the Sargasso sea or know what an elver is? You can find out in poems here! 'Lord Beaufort's Scale' effortlessly explains the wind force scale, conveying its importance to those on the seas. 

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'Under the Sea' contains poems concerning the negative impact man can have on the oceans. Although this has been touched on in previous poems- 'the man whirls his net...to catch just enough fish for dinner.' (Fishing for Dinner), the writing here clearly spells out some of the negatives; 'Bottom Trawling' and 'Deadliest of All' bear witness to the damage humans are wreaking on the watery world. However, there are also poems in this section that revel in the mysteries of the deep, bringing its marvels to life.

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The final section explores the wonders of the sea. Here you can learn to sing like a humpback whale, marvel at minute plankton, meet manta rays and flying fish. So much to wonder about and to wonder at in these pages.

There is a richness of vocabulary used in these poems which makes them a pleasure to read. The illustrations are fabulous, each worth lingering over and enjoying again and again. 'A First Book of the Sea' is an essential for classrooms and libraries as well as for enjoying at home! All round winner!

A First Book of the Sea     Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Walker    ISBN: 978-1406368956

The Christmas Eve Tree

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Author: Delia Huddy

Illustrator: Emily Sutton

ISBN: 978-1406356496

In a forest of Christmas trees, there is one little tree that had no chance to grow big and strong amongst its neighbours.  Accidentally dug up by foresters, it finds itself amidst some truly magnificent trees taken to the city to be sold, admired and decorated for the Christmas season. Finally discarded on Christmas Eve, the little tree worries what its fate might be.

A young boy sees the value in the stunted tree, plants it and takes care of it. He places it beside his cardboard box home on the pavement and feels cheered by its company. A small box of candles is purchased to adorn the tree’s branches and soon the pretty little tree becomes the centrepiece for a gathering crowd, of not only the homeless, but sightseers, commuters and passersby.

The tree, bursting with pride, stands a little taller, becoming a beacon of hope for his young owner. That night, the magic of Christmas Eve was felt all the more strongly throughout the city streets. However, a few days later, the little tree is once again discarded and placed in a sweeper’s barrow. Seeing potential in a few remaining green shoots, the road sweeper plants the tree in the corner of the park. 

For years the tree thrived in its new home, growing cheerful and stout, if not big and strong. Proving that no matter the adversity, against all odds, some things will grow.

A beautiful story to share throughout Christmas time with a message that is not constrained to the holiday season.