Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Tale of the Animals' Christmas in Crouch End by Lance Lee

Destined to be a Christmas classic, The Tale of the Animals' Christmas in Crouch End will charm the socks off readers young and old--preferably enjoyed jointly as a holiday read-aloud. This book combined so many of my favorite things: talking animals (reminiscent of Wind in the Willows), a British setting, a home project, and a bit of magic sprinkled throughout.

An unusually wet season has forced Marvin's mole family to reroute their front door. Imagine the mole's surprise when the new door is adjacent to the den of Rufus, the resident fox of the neighborhood and known hunter of small animals. Marvin is wielding tools (handy defense should the fox become unfriendly), and explains that he does home repairs. Very serendipitous because Rufus' home has been utterly ruined with standing water everywhere. 

Rufus hires Marvin to do repairs and so begins the start of a tentative truce among the animals. Rufus' nephew, Rupert, will be visiting over Christmas and Rufus wants to make the best impression possible.

As the home repairs continue, Rufus finds that his hunting has been curtailed which gives him more time to explore the curious traditions that humans follow at this time of year. Lights and decorated trees appear and a festive spirit permeates the neighborhood that seems to cast a spell over even the animals. A feast is proposed and the animals agree to a period of harmony to share the holiday. When problems arise, Rufus calls upon his gift of second sight and seeks the help of Tinya the fairy. 

So many fun details and heartwarming aspects of this story. It will make a wonderful book to read as a family year after year. With 9 chapters, it makes the perfect run-up to the holiday--creating anticipation to know what will happen next while slowly ushering in the most magical time of year. 

I appreciated that while Santa was an obvious part of the story, the Christ child was also mentioned. And while the story is not particularly religious, it does offer a touching lesson on what makes Christmas special that anyone can appreciate. Pick up your copy today and be enchanted not only by the story but also the delightful illustrations drawn by the talented Meilo So. This review and others can be found at Reedsy Discovery

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Tale of the Animals' Chrismas in Crouch End from Reedsy Discovery for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are my own.


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