my friend Laura, who I mention a lot on this blog, is a darling friend that I've known since I was seven - we grew up together in Hawaii and we both are book fanatics. She's a good and loving friend to books, and to me, and she very kindly lets me know about things like this, and other magical happenings, and books, and things of interest that she thinks I should know about. If I could thank Facebook for only one thing, it would be bringing Laura back into my life (we lost touch with each other when she moved away from Hawaii mid-way through high school).
Anyway, Laura has been after me for years to get on with reading 'Letters from Father Christmas' by J. R. R. Tolkien. She was stupefied when I said I had never read it. I had never even seen it! Every so often, this book would come up as we wrote to each other and chatted and she was like 'YOU. MUST. get this book. WHY do you not have it.' At least a couple of years, maybe three, she's been telling me this.
Sometimes it takes me awhile to get things in motion. Like picking up my finger and pressing 'order'.
But after agonizing over which copy to get (there are several editions available and Laura has a vintage copy, which is not widely available, so I had to kind of wing it when deciding what to get!) - thankfully I chose wisely and the book fairies delivered the copy you see here in this post, and I couldn't be more thrilled.
'The Hobbit'. Tolkien scholars (I am not one of them) have discussed how if you're an avid Tolkien reader, you can see elements from the letters that he put into 'The Hobbit' and elements from 'The Hobbit' that he put into the letters. As well as material seen in other works.
Blah blah blah scholarly themes that may flow between his works do not really interest me. What interests me is that this collection of letters Tolkien created for his children as they grew up is FLIPPING AMAZING. I have no idea what kind of father he was really, and I know next to nothing about his life, but if this creation is any indication of what kind of father he was, well, color me impressed.
First of all, THE ART. He drew everything! Look at all his charming detailing and COLORS. Look at the colors! Look at the little stamps he created! Look at the handwriting! Can you IMAGINE getting something like that in the mail?? (apparently sometimes the letters were found in the snow, sometimes hand delivered, sometimes they were found in the mail box)
And speaking of that insane calligraphy, which can be a bit tricksy to read - what's nice about the book is that it shows you the actual letters on one page, with the typed text printed out on the opposing page, so you don't have to strain your eyes trying to figure out his handwriting.
Most of his stories prominently feature his main assistant and best friend, the North Polar Bear, who is a bit of a bumbling fool. The North Polar Bear also takes it upon himself to jump in and write many portions of the letter himself - especially when he feels the need to contradict some point Father Christmas is trying to make. One year the mischievous polar bear went and lit off Father Christmas' entire stash of holiday fireworks, thus creating an incredible light show that greatly resembles a gorgeous Aurora Borealis. Another time he climbs the North Pole and then falls through the roof of Father Christmas' house. He's naughty and hilarious and a troublemaker, and we love him.
The book is lovely, the pages are thick and smooth and silky, the colors are just so gorgeous and vibrant - while I wish this was a hard cover, honestly that's my only quibble - this is a beautifully put together book and I'm utterly delighted with it. We've been reading a few of the letters as a family every other night - I don't think we're going to get through them all this holiday season, but we can read more next year. (Oh - ignore the reviewer on Amazon who complains in the first comment about this edition - the edition they were complaining of is not this one - this one is lovely)
This is a magical creation of a book. MAGICAL. The details! Written and drawn! Now that I actually have it living in my house, I'm amazed and horrified that it took me so long to get around to getting it. So much imagination and love went into this book. The letters span from 1920 to 1942 and they are as charming as the day is long. You know I really get shouty only about a select few books these days - I don't have time to blog as often, and I only want to blog about what I find to be really, truly, ultra special. Do yourself a favor and get this one a lot sooner than I did - it needs to be in your permanent collection. This book makes me want to laugh and sing and cry over its beauty.