Book Review – A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

books, reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s rundown, my reading hasn’t exactly been great recently. I’m being a bit slow and not getting through my Christmas TBR very quickly. So, I really need a few short reads to boost my numbers. Otherwise, I’ll get to December 25th and still have so many festive reads to get through. Exactly what happened to me in October when I neglected my Halloween TBR. Thankfully, my most recent read was a super quick one that I managed to finish in less than a hour on Sunday. It’s exactly what I needed and has, hopefully, set me on a positive literary journey during my days off. Or, it will give me a false sense of security and I’ll forget to do any of the things that I need to do. But, we’ll get to that when we get to it.

I can’t remember the last time that we actually had a proper white Christmas in my part of the world but, still, the image of snow-covered hills persists as the ideal Christmas image. It’s certainly something that haunts the childhood memories of poet Dylan Thomas. A Child’s Christmas in Wales was based on an earlier work written for the radio. It was expanded upon and recorded for a Christmas memory radio show. In it, Thomas recounts the Christmas of a young boy in a seaside town. The narrative has something of a loose structure as we move between different episodes. Although, they all come together to paint a portrait of a traditional family Christmas.

The short book perfectly captures the festive spirit and fun of Christmas in the eyes of a child. We see him throwing snowballs at a neighbourhood cat, carolling outside a scary house, watching for the postman, and discussing presents. What is apparent in all of the memories is the love and joy of the season.

Thomas’ prose is absolutely beautiful and manages to describe the magic of the holiday. It is lyrical and poetic as you would expect from Dylan Thomas but this only works in his favour. The flowery language only helps to evoke the sense of wonder that young children have about everything relating to Christmas. Though this clearly concerns a very different time period, there is something that every reader can relate to.

The illustrations by Peter Bailey really help create that nostalgic mood and capture the magic of Christmas. They are all traditional and old-fashioned images. Their simplicity works well with Thomas’ prose and creates the perfect portrait of Christmases past. This would be the perfect book for a family to read out-loud before Christmas. There is a great flow to the narrative and plenty of joy to share.

Very few Christmas books manage to capture the spirit of the season quite so evocatively. Thomas recreates a nostalgic vision of Christmas without falling too deeply into sentiment. There is sweetness and love here but it isn’t saccharine. It just feels real. It is guaranteed to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy as they remember their own childhoods.

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