Letters from Father Christmas
By Darienne Stewart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Tolkien's magical North Pole tales delight all ages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Educational ValueSeveral letters note hardship in the world, particular dislocated children and families in need during World War II.
Positive MessagesFather Christmas is often annoyed by the troublemaking North Polar Bear, but the two clearly have great affection for each other. Despite mishaps -- from severe weather to sparklers set off in the storeroom -- he and Polar Bear always manage to set thing right and get gifts delivered on time. They make extra effort for children during wartime.
Positive Role ModelsFather Christmas is a very human figure in these letters, both appreciative of Polar Bear's help and exasperated by his antics. He has great empathy for children in need, and thoughtful wishes for the Tolkien children. He's of course devoted to his mission, and overcomes every setback that comes his way. He wraps up his season with a celebration on St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26). Older readers will appreciate the love and care Tolkien put into creating this correspondence for his children.
Violence & Scariness
Goblins sometimes attack the storerooms at the North Pole, and several accidents lead to explosions of sparklers and crackers. Polar Bear is injured, sometimes hurt or ill, and at one point is missing for days. Humor keeps the mood light, and everything always ends well.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Letters from Father Christmas is a clever collection of illustrated letters fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, created for his children. They expand on traditional stories of St. Nicholas and the North Pole, adding the accident-prone "helper" the North Polar Bear, troublesome goblins, Snowboys, and others. In one tale the Man in the Moon drinks brandy and falls asleep. There are references to war, including messengers who don't return, displaced children, and special deliveries of basic comforts to families in need.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Is It Any Good?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the type and illustrations complement each other. Would you prefer to see just reproductions of the letters?
How does J.R.R. Tolkien's imagining of life at the North Pole compare with other stories of Santa?
Families may want to infuse their own holiday traditions with Tolkien's spirit, perhaps beginning a correspondence with Santa themselves.
- Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
- Illustrator: J.R.R. Tolkien
- Genre: Holiday
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Holidays
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: September 2, 1976
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 5 - 8
- Number of pages: 112
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 29, 2017
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Where to Read
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