By Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey
Strauss House Publications (2014)
36pp; extensively illustrated
'The Christmas Truce' is a delightful rhyme about the First World War, and is in a similar vein to 'Where the Poppies Now Grow', also written by Robinson and Impey. Both books highlight the human qualities that all people share, despite the tragedy and destruction associated with combat. This particular book focuses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1914, when British and German soldiers met in No Man's Land to celebrate the festive season. The authors describe it as 'The Place Where Peace Was Found'. The passage of time is evidenced too, with a lighted candle, which gradually burns down as each page is turned, suggesting that the peace cannot last.
Again, just like 'Where the Poppies Now Grow', the illustrations are superb. The colour blue is predominant, allowing the glow from candles and moonlight to provide a halo effect. This again suggests it is a hallowed time. Children will enjoy joining in with the rhythm and rhyme of the story; such as 'To echoes of bells that started to chime When friends were made at Christmas t...'. They will also enjoy searching the pages for two characters, which cheekily appear in unexpected places, the robin redbreast on the German side and the little brown mouse on the British side.
This is a poignant tale, which I am sure, children in the 3-8 years age group will enjoy. Just as in, 'Where the Poppies Now Grow', it will prepare them for learning about the First World War, in a way that reinforces key ideas and themes.
Reviewed by Wendy Thompson BEd MA