Friday, December 23, 2016

Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien

SummaryEvery December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or some sketches. 

The letters were from Father Christmas.

They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents everywhere; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house.

Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humor to the stories.

This updated version contains a wealth of new material, including letters and pictures missing from early editions. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and "authenticity" of J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas. (Summary and image from

Review: I am NOT a fan of Tolkien.  I never have been, I don't like the Lord of the Rings series, I can barely stomach The Hobbit, so can someone explain to me why I am SO enchanted with this book?

Perhaps it's the obvious love that Tolkien poured into the letters for his children.  Perhaps it's the handwriting that is so perfectly Father Christmas.  It could be the drawings (the gorgeous drawings), the hilarious characters, or the depth in which Tolkien so succinctly infused the stories he told. Whatever it is, this is by far my favorite example of Tolkien's work. Ever. 

This is a book best left for parents looking to capture some Christmas Spirit.  Some of the letters, penned leading up to and during World War II, are slightly darker than I had expected, detailing a ferocious war with the Goblins. However, they're also fairly realistic for a time where all children knew was war and uncertainty.  However, the telling of the stories, is what absolutely amazed me.  These are the letters penned by Tolkien from Father Christmas.  He has adopted an entirely new way of writing, switching from the hand of Father Christmas (shaky and ornate) to the paw of the Polar Bear (blocky and thick), to the scrawl of the Secretary Elf.  The drawings are gorgeous -- I never knew he was an artist!

I really did love my reading of this book and mourned having to return it to the library.  This one may be going on my Christmas list!

Rating: Five Stars

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