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Part picture book, part illustrated young fiction, this crime-themed Christmas story sees siblings Jack and Sarah head to school where their Granddad, a retired multi-award-winning writer, has been invited to read one of his stories to the pupils. The tale he tells is the eponymous Robbers Nearly Ruined Christmas, in which (you’ve guessed it!) some (Milton Keynes-residing) robbers almost spoil Christmas, but - thankfully - Dancer the reindeer steps up to save the day. This could make a fun tale to read-aloud to young children in the run-up to Christmas, but there’s something of a mismatch between the illustration style and picture book format - both of which are better suited to young toddlers - and the story level, length and language, which are more appropriate for older readers. Also, there’s no integration of the framing story (the siblings going to school) with the seasonal story Granddad reads to the pupils. This would be improved by working-up a real-life story around the tale Granddad tells, or else leaving out the framing elements and simply focussing on the Christmas story itself, which is peppered with peril, elves and action. As a lovely bonus, there are some pages to colour-in at the back.
Somewhere between picture book and illustrated young fiction, this cracking Christmas story (pun entirely intended!) is set three days before the big day. Excitement is mounting for siblings Jack and Sarah, who are out with their mum, soaking up the seasonal atmosphere – shop windows laden with presents, the scent of mince pies, the sound of carols. Back at home, they settle down for a cosy evening’s entertainment courtesy of their Granddad reading one of his stories, in which Santa’s elves are engaged in a frantic flurry of activity. However, when the big night arrives, it soon becomes clear that Santa Claus Junior doesn’t have much idea about where they’re going, which means they’re way behind schedule. So, if Christmas is to be saved, the more experienced elves and reindeers will have to help out. While there’s some incongruity between the young illustration style and picture book format, and the older story level and length, this is ideal for reading-aloud to children in those thrilling days before Christmas, while the extra pages to colour-in will keep little ones happily entertained.