Wednesday 6 November 2013

Christmas in Exeter Street

Christmas in Exeter Street by Diana Hendry, illustrated by John Lawrence (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781406343038
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Maggie Mistletoe’s house in Exeter Street is preparing for Christmas. But she’s unprepared for all the unexpected guests that start turning up, hot on the heels of Ben and Jane’s grandparents and their three cats. But it’s Christmas, so Maggie tries to warm-heartedly take it all in her stride. But how many people can one house hold?

When the vicar’s roof blows off, he arrives with his wife and four children to an already full house. He’s followed by two fat men, their wives and five children. Then come the three neighbours from next door with their sleeping bags, Ben and Jane’s friends whose parents have gone on a business trip, and a stream of others including Uncle Bartholemew who has just returned from Australia, plus a stray cat that sneaks in. Where will they all sleep? Wait and see!

The imagination can’t picture the chaos but the illustrations in the double spread turned sideways can. And it’s picture perfect. There is no spare space in the house on Exeter Street, not even in the kitchen sink where baby Lily-Lou is sleeping. But there is warmth, love, laughter, sharing, and lots of noise and festivity.

Will Father Christmas see the note pinned to the door? Are there enough presents for everyone?

This is a joyful Christmas message about embracing the unexpected and offering random acts of kindness to strangers as well as friends. The text is perfectly portrayed in the delicate and detailed illustrations created in fine line ink and watercolour.

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