The Night I Met Father Christmas

The Night I Met Father Christmas
Ben Miller, illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Jackson knows a fair bit about what happens on Christmas Eve night, as well as about that North Pole workshop, so he’s more than a little concerned when his friend suggests that the whole Father Christmas thing isn’t real. He stays up on 24th December hoping that he’ll meet the man himself and lo and behold, he does – in a rather noisy manner when a small elf-like figure clad in red tumbles into his fireplace injuring his ankle in so doing.

At first he denies his identity but Jackson eventually gets him to admit who he is. The boy asks the little character (who isn’t quite what he was expecting) a very important question: “How did you become Father Christmas?” The answer is not at all what he was anticipating. It’s the story of Torvil Christmas, an extremely rich but miserly toyshop owner that the elf recounts, 

as, having accepted the boy’s offer of help to complete his worldwide delivery round in time, the two board the sleigh and take to the air.
Cleverly weaving Jackson’s adventure into a reworking of Scrooge’s transformation in Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, and giving it a liberal sprinkling of magic, Ben Miller has created a sparkling seasonal, read – aloud or alone- that’s just right for the run up to the festive period. I love the additional “Christmassy fun’ pages too, as well as the wonderful black and white illustrations

by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini scattered throughout the telling.

The Day I Fell into a Fairytale

The Day I Fell into a Fairytale
Ben Miller, illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Lana is a lover of stories and books, often using them as a starting point for fantastical games played with her brother, Harrison.
Now though, Harrison has started secondary school and considers himself both too grown-up and too busy with studies to play with his sister. Consequently, Lana feels lonely.

Then something strange and magical happens when with her mum, she visits the mega offers supermarket that’s recently appeared in town and there she discovers something totally unexpected – a portal leading to a fairytale world.

There is SO much to discover in this other world and her own.
Just who is the strange little old man she encounters in the supermarket?

Lana manages to get her brother to take her back to the supermarket
but “tubs of sweets that lead to fairytales … it’s just too far-fetched” is his reaction. But is it so?

Even when both siblings have cascaded through a portal, large white deer fail to convince him of its otherworldly nature; so what about flying arrows?

Lana though, is used to happy-ever-after fairytales and what she experiences are anything but; they’re dark and perilous. Even that odd little man when next they meet him, insists that the Sleeping Beauty fairytale the siblings have just left, is of the scary kind.

Enter Hansel and Gretel, a wicked witch (now where did she come from?) and what in fairytale land do oxbow lakes, Archimedes and the lever principle have to do with anything?

So, can Lana – dubbed Lana of Azupermarket – with the aid of her brother, defeat that evil witch? Perhaps, but only if she can convince him to resurrect his belief in fairytales.

With a big push for the power of the imagination and the importance of having fun, Ben Miller has created stories within a story and it’s so cleverly done. No reverse psychology required to get this reviewer and lover of fractured fairytales to read it right through, relishing every word. I love the border embellishments and occasional illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini too.

As a teacher I’ve never been one to stick to timetables but having read this cracking story, I might just have to think again on that one – in certain circumstances that is.