This week brings two exciting new releases by popular author-and-illustrator team Matt Haig and Chris Mould - 'The Truth Pixie' (newly published 18th October 2018) and 'Father Christmas and Me' (republished in paperback). In this post, we review both books and share with you some free downloadable resources for schools to use alongside the books.
Book Titles: 'Father Christmas and Me' and 'The Truth Pixie'
Author: Matt Haig
Illustrator: Chris Mould
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication Date: October 2018
Father Christmas and Me
Question: What do you get if you cross fake news, the Easter Bunny and a school for elves with a big jolly man in a red suit? Answer: The rip-roaring plot of Matt Haig's fabulously funny and festive story, of course!
The third in a Christmas series suitable for KS2, Father Christmas and Me continues to showcase Matt Haig's distinct brand of heartwarming humour, brought to life with Chris Mould's stylish-yet-playful line-drawn illustrations that bring out the spirit of the characters so evocatively.
Amelia Wishart is trying her hardest to settle into life in Elfhelm, but it is not easy being human in a town made for magical folk. The subjects at Elf school do not come naturally to Amelia (especially when in Elf mathematics 2 + 2 = snow), except for sleigh driving, which she does not yet have permission to do. Then there is also the unpleasant Father Vodol and his fake stories to contend with.
When she stumbles across an unsettling plot being made by a jealous Easter Bunny, Amelia must use all of her resources to save the joy of Christmas before time runs out.
Balancing a warning against the damage that fake news can cause with a celebration of kindness and goodwill, this is the sort of Christmas story that leaves readers ho-ho-hoping for more.
The Truth Pixie
This original book is a quick and quirky read with a heartwarming message about the value of true friendship, told in rhyming couplets.
The Truth Pixie lives in a faraway magical land and has been put under a spell that means she can only speak if she tells the truth. Finding that truthful words cause others to turn away from her, the Truth Pixie sadly discovers that friendships of any kind have become too difficult for her to form.
After a scarily truthful encounter with a larger-than-life troll, the Truth Pixie finds herself flung through the air all the way to Helsinki (which, as it turns out, rhymes perfectly with 'that troll who is stinky'). Once there, the Truth Pixie befriends a downhearted girl called Aada, who is filled with worry and sadness as she faces an impending house move away from her friends.
Of course, the Truth Pixie has no choice but to agree - truthfully- that the girl's situation looks bleak. But wise in her truthfulness, she also knows that while hard times may be inevitable in life, they are also temporary and that brighter times will lie ahead.
“Don’t forget who you are. You are a fighter.
As the dark in the sky makes the stars shine brighter,
You will find that the bad stuff has good bits too.
The bad days are the days that make you you."
Before long, the Truth Pixie's words turn into an enormous encouragement and a friendship begins to blossom.
This is a sweet story - and one that is just as suitable all year round as it is for Christmas - that is full of warmth and humour in its plot, its lilting rhyme and perfectly pitched illustrations.
Resources for Schools
To celebrate the publication of Matt and Chris's new books, the team at Canongate have produced a set of classroom resources based on these books as well as the previous two in the series.
The resources are aimed at KS1 and KS2 and are mainly literacy based but also contain links to other curriculum areas. The resources include comprehension extracts, character analysis, drama activities, map-making and research into the history behind the Victorian characters in the series. These handy downloadable resources will be perfect for teachers in classrooms and bookclubs during the busy run-up to Christmas.
Many thanks to Canongate and publicist Jen for sending me review copies of the books and inviting me to host the resources.