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Published by: Tiny Tree Books (October 7th 2021)
It's that time of year again (already?) where new festive releases start making their way into the world. As the nights get darker and the temperature gets colder, that annual countdown starts creeping into our lives along with the desire to snuggle down and get cosy.
Well, there won't be much more of a cosier read for chapter book readers (approximately 6-8 year olds) than Bonnie Bridgman's debut junior fiction release, Clara Claus Saves Christmas. Perfect for the targeted age-group, this story combines everything Christmassy with drama, tension and an extra dose of heart-warming goodwill.
When the reindeer fall sick, Clara panics. But when Santa falls ill too, Clara knows it's up to her and her annoying brother, Nick, to avert a Christmas disaster. With lists to sort, toys to make and reindeer to train, Clara needs to get organised. But most importantly, can Clara keep the Christmas spirit alive?
This is not only a great story about Christmas, it's a great story about family, friendship, perseverance, determination and hope. Christmas is not always an easy time, especially when you live in the North Pole, but Clara is determined to rally her team and keep hope and joy alive despite facing a giant snowball of challenges. Clara is a heroine who sets a wonderful example to young readers and one who shows care, empathy, resilience and genuine heart.
This story's winter-warming message is rolled up in a fun and imaginative plot and a great Christmassy hug of comfort. Bonnie Bridgman whips up lashings of festive visuals (Clara's gingerbread-style home and the hot chocolate were my favourite) which are wonderfully executed by the brilliant Louise Forshaw, who also collaborated with Bonnie on her debut picture book, Catch That Cough. There's some lovely world-building that enhances the Christmassy world we already know and some great attention to detail.
As if that isn't enough, Clara's brother, Nick, adds a Yuletide helping of humour. There's also a great scene with the reindeer twins that made me chuckle out loud. But my favourite part of this book was without doubt 'the naughty and nice list' and the sensitive exploration that human behaviour is rarely black and white, that there are usually reasons for why we behave the way we do and that it's never too late to change your choices.
Clara Claus Saves Christmas is available to pre-order now and will be released on October 7th 2021.