Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.
This week Billy asks: What book would you recommend for a Christmas present?
J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas. The book compiles the letters that Father Christmas (better known to Americans as Santa Claus) wrote to the children of J.R.R. Tolkien starting in 1920 and lasting until 1943, complete with the accompanying illustrations of the doings of the inhabitants of the North Pole. Before he wrote The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was creating a magical world full of magic, elves, and mysteries for his children, and now that they have been compiled into one volume, for everyone else too.
Like most children, J.R.R. Tolkien's progeny wrote letters to Father Christmas. Unlike many other children, Tolkien's children received letters back. Beautiful, hand written letters telling a tale of the doings of the inhabitants of the North Pole, mostly Father Christmas himself, and his well-meaning, although somewhat dim and clumsy friend the Great Polar Bear. Through the letters, we learn that Father Christmas had a very nice house right next to the towering North Pole named Christmas House. I say "had", because when the Great Polar Bear tried to climb the Pole, he broke the giant spike and it collapsed on top of Father Christmas' home. The North pole was repaired, but Father Christmas built his new house on top of a conveniently nearby cliff and named it "Cliff House".
The story winds its way through various events - the Polar Bear tries to help deliver gifts, Father Christmas explores the ancient caves beneath his new home, the goblins living in those caves try to invade Cliff House and must be repelled, and so on. Most of the letters are written in Father Christmas' spidery handwriting, but some also include the sloppy and thick messages written by the Polar Bear, and all contain illustrations depicting the events described in the letters. The letters even contain the details of a secret goblin pictographic alphabet - even at this stage of his life, Tolkien couldn't resist creating new languages and new alphabets to go with them. Everything about the book demonstrates the care and affection Tolkien felt for his children, and displays the kernels of the ideas that gave rise to the themes that dominated his later work. The book is beautiful, magical, and manages to capture everything that makes Christmas wonderful.
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