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Christmas Always Comes by Jackie French, Bruce Whateley

Title: Christmas Always Comes

A boy, a girl and a wallaby are in a garden in the bush under the title Christmas always Comes by Jackie French and Bruce Whateley.

Author: Jackie French

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Published: 13th October 2021

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: From the author and illustrator of many beloved classic picture books comes a story about an Australian Christmas. Beautiful and heartwarming, this is a book that is destined to become a family favourite.

‘Joy comes in the morning’

It’s Christmas Eve in 1932, and Joey, Ellie and their parents are droving cattle in the drought.

How will Santa find them on the long and dusty road? And will there be pudding and presents and a tree in the morning?

But Joey knows that Christmas always comes.

From two of Australia’s best-loved picture book creators comes a story about finding joy and beauty where you least expect it, and how kindness can create miracles.

~*~

This year, many of us again face a COVID-affected Christmas as we wait to see what opening up brings, and much like the family in this story, some people may only see those in their immediate household again, for any number of reasons. As Joey, Ellie and their parents are droving the cattle during the drought, they stumble across a lonely old man as they face a Christmas in the countryside riddled with drought – and in a place where Ellie is sure Father Christmas won’t come – they’re not at home, so why would he? But Joey is determined that they will have Christmas – and he is determined to include the old man whose farm they stumble across in their celebration.

Joey’s unbreakable spirit and zest for life, and his Christmas joy leap off the page, and gather the reader in a warm hug as they experience a simple yet loving Christmas that is all about family – yet still with the things we recognise as part of our Christmas. Jackie’s stories always have something magical and powerful behind them, and often, the simplicity in the way she explores some things is very powerful and allows us to catch glimpses of times and lives that are long past, and that we may not experience these days.

Christmas stories are always beautiful, and so many in my collection are European – A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, and various fairytales, or the many, many American Christmas movies. Whilst I love these snow-filled stories, there’s something delightful about Christmas stories set in Australia and its scorching summer. We can relate to them more, and see ourselves in them – that our Christmas is just as special as a white Christmas. In Australia, we have a bush Christmas, a beach Christmas, a city Christmas and many, many other kinds of Christmases depending on where we live and how we celebrate – religious and secular as well, and each is important and special to those who are involved.

Accompanied by more delightful Bruce Whateley illustrations, this story has everything we have come to expect from this fabulous pairing as the words and illustrations work together to tell the story and tug at our emotions. It is so wonderfully Australian, one can feel truly at home in this book.

This is a magical story that will remind us that even when Christmas is small and isolated, we can always find something joyful and beautiful in it and in the people that we share it with.

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