Julianna's Reviews > The Father Christmas Letters

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien
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's review
Dec 23, 10

bookshelves: childrens-fiction, desert-island-keepers, holiday-stories, read-2010
Recommended for: Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, Unique Holiday Stories
Read from December 01 to 02, 2010, read count: 1

Reviewed for THC Reviews
I can only imagine the excitement of the Tolkien children to receive these wonderful letters from Father Christmas every year, or what it must have been like to have such a talented writer as a father. I, for one, think that it would have been splendid to get letters from Santa each Christmas. Letters from Father Christmas (previously released as The Father Christmas Letters) is a delightful book that is sure to entertain readers both young and old. Starting in 1920 when his oldest son was three, J. R. R. Tolkien began writing letters to his children from Father Christmas telling of his adventures that year with his friend North Polar Bear. Along with each letter was also a picture that made a lovely accompaniment (for some reason I never realized that Mr. Tolkien was an artist as well). All of the pictures and portions of some of the original handwritten messages, penned in a funny spidery scrawl, are reproduced in this book.

The tone of the letters is something different than I had imagined before picking the book up, but this would probably only make it more intriguing to adult readers. Embedded in each one, I could see a certain degree of social commentary on the times. These missives were written between 1920 and 1939. Of course, during that time, there was the aftermath of one World War and the beginning of another as well as the Great Depression. Ofttimes, Santa is befallen by some calamity which is used to explain why he was unable to bring the children all they asked for in their stockings. As the years go by, the stories increase in complexity and become more and more imaginative. Santa finds himself battling goblins who are the denizens of evil, and new characters are introduced with some of the later letters being written in part by Father Christmas's elf helper, Ilbereth. Overall, I believe readers will be able to see shades of Mr. Tolkien's later work in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (there is even a short passage written in Elvish). At the end, there is a letter from Polar Bear written in the goblin alphabet which will keep readers busy for a while deciphering it.

In my opinion, Letters from Father Christmas is a must-have book for true Tolkien fans. I borrowed it from the library but will definitely be acquiring a copy for my keeper shelf. Although our children may be too old now to fully appreciate it, I'm sure my husband and I will enjoy it ourselves for years to come and look forward to sharing it with our grandchildren or any other youngsters who may become a part of our lives. Letters from Father Christmas would make a fabulous holiday gift for children of all ages, and could easily be turned into a family tradition by reading one letter each night leading up to Christmas.
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Reading Progress

12/03/2010 page 48
100.0% "A lovely book for readers of all ages. Review coming soon."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine... This sounds wonderful! I wish I had seen this before Christmas. I'll be looking for a copy as well!

Thank you for such an inspiring review!

Julianna You're welcome, Dhestiny. I didn't realize until after reading it that not all the letters are included in this edition. I'm going to be looking for the one that has the complete collection. I think it may be this one: Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
The GR synopsis mentioned some things like the reindeer getting loose and Polar Bear breaking the moon that weren't in the one I read.

message 3: by UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine... (last edited Dec 24, 2010 10:52AM) (new) - added it

UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine... If you find out, please let me know. I'd love to have this for next year.

message 4: by Julianna (last edited Dec 24, 2010 01:21PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Julianna I did a bit of checking and it looks like this one: Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien has all 24 letters from 1920 to 1943. Here's an extensive review of it if you're interested: http://www.tolkien-online.com/letters... This review also mentioned that the edition I posted in Msg. 2 has additional letters and pictures that the original did not. It doesn't say for sure if that one is complete, but at 159 pages, I would certainly hope so. The edition I read was only 48.:-) The one with the red cover is cheaper and still in print though, so much easier to find.

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