Advanced search

December Picture book of the month: Alfie's Christmas by Shirley Hughes

(46 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 02-Dec-13 16:37:43

December Picture book of the month has already been discussed on the Mumsnet boards as a children's classic for the Christmas season. Who better to share the countdown to the big day with than Alfie and Annie Rose? In this book Alfie opens his advent calendar and makes cards and presents. He sings carols and decorates the tree.

If you would like to get your hands on one of fifty FREE copies and review, apply here before midnight on Sunday 8 December.

HazelDormouse Wed 18-Dec-13 12:29:41

An excellent story, which is easy for small children to relate to and enjoy. We, like most who have read any Alfie books, adore these Shirley Hughes stories. It was good to see the Dad so actively involved in the story this time. I can not recommend it enough. Thank you.

Vicketaylor1989 Wed 18-Dec-13 17:03:18

My little boy is 14 months and loves reading stories. This Alfie book about christmas was well in favour he loved turning the pages and pointing at the beautiful pictures. We read the story too him over two nights as it was a little long for his age to sit and read it all at once but he loved it and sat entranced. Highly recommend and defiantly nice to see the adult male characters involved more.

FeverAndTheFret Wed 18-Dec-13 17:33:31

Received my copy on Monday - thank you!

My young daughter and I enjoyed reading it last night - my daughter commented on things she especially related to -like Annie- Rose needing a sleep as she was grumpy (come to think of it, I relate to that too), and Alfie getting a scooter and Annie-Rose a (stunning!) fairy dress.

Is this an updated book? Reading the other comments it would appear so -if it is, I think Shirley Hughes has updated it perfectly - it still has that cosy traditional british christmas feel to it, but with a sprinkling of contemporary details in the more involved role of the dad and the scooter.

Hughes' illustrations are as evocative and detailed as ever: I especially like the row of terraced houses with the christmas trees in the windows, and the various people walking up the street .

Thanks again it's a lovely hardback with very thick quality paper!

4sanity Thu 19-Dec-13 00:01:19

Our copy came today (via a trip to the sorting office) and was well worth the wait. What a gorgeous book - thank you Mumsnet smile DD (4) was delighted to have a parcel for her to open and we love Shirley Hughes illustrations and stories. DD's favourite bit was Annie-Rose opening her presents in the middle of the night! I've been told to read it to her several times already today and it was the book of choice at bedtime. Wonderful!

cavylover Thu 19-Dec-13 16:31:53

Thank you for the lovely book received on Monday. Very well-written book about a family Christmas with excellent illustrations. The children looked like brother and sister and there is generally a lot of attention to detail. Think I read this book as a child as for some reason the bit about the relation visiting from Australia seemed familiar. I think I remembered that part of the story because I have always found it interesting how Christmas is in other countries and children will be interested to hear about the weather in Australia and how different it is there.

A timeless classic.

amapola Thu 19-Dec-13 22:30:49

Thanks for my copy. The book it is about a very traditional Christmas - with some very slight modernisation. For example - Dad does the cooking on Christmas day. Otherwise a story that could have been written 70 years ago.
Reading this - you'd think I didn't like the book. I enjoyed the simple nature of it - and my DS 4 really loved it - so it was an absolute pleasure to read. Not something I'd take notice of in a book shop mind - the cover doesn't inspire and the pictures don't shout "fun" - but they do reflect the story well.

pixieindisguise Fri 20-Dec-13 14:07:26

I read this last night with my daughter who is 3. The story was nice and very thorough, going through the preparation for Christmas and the big day itself. My sleepy daughter enjoyed it but to be honest (and I feel awful saying this after reading all the other reviews!), I was the one slightly disappointed because the pictures are so old fashioned and dated. I'm not against old fashioned at all because I have some lovely old Christmas books that could be described as dated. I guess the difference with this one is that the pictures are not just dated, they are a bit ugly. I'm sorry but that's my honest review! Great little story with lovely details, but the illustrations aren't the nicest.

greenhill Fri 20-Dec-13 19:05:22

Thanks very much for our copy of Alfie's Christmas which arrived on Monday. It has been read every day so far and is now part of our Christmas countdown. My 3yo regularly brings the book to me and my 6yo has sat cuddled on my lap as I've read it to her, so she could look at the pictures, then she has read it to me too.

I really liked seeing how Annie Rose is starting to look more like Mum, with updates in terms of a safety helmet for the scooter and needing batteries for the toy to work, and Dad and Great Uncle Will preparing the Christmas meal as Mum and Grandma took food to the homeless at church. The pictures have a timeless yet faded quality to them.

It was lovely when my DC remembered how Will had been a small boy that had thrown his trousers over a hedge to get out of being in school, in another story.

Surf25 Fri 20-Dec-13 22:50:37

Returned from wee holiday to find our Alfie's Christmas book waiting for us! Only got round to opening the mail once the kids were in bed so have just had a sneaky peak before reading it with them tomorrow. They will be so excited. They love the adventures that Alfie and Annie Rose have and they will be able to relate to so many of the details in the story - like choosing the tree, making the cards and decorations, getting the decorations from the attic, there are so many parallels with what we have done in the past couple of weeks. Also, the kids have cousins in australia so they will love the references to Uncle Will's life in Oz! Thank you so very much, also my husband was so excited to see I had received this for the kids and that was lovely to see as well! This will be a firm favourite, I have no doubt. Thank you!

JParkson Sat 21-Dec-13 11:55:22

Thank you for the book,

I read it to DD1 (3) as soon as it came, and I also had DS (10) nonchalantly peering over my shoulder as I read!

The children enjoyed it, although I think it is a little long/waffly for a 3 year old (we usually read Puddle Lane, Peter and Jane or similar books).

I didn't mind the illustrations - they are a little messy, but that's part of the appeal of Alfie books from what I remember. However, I don't remember them being so long, but it has been a couple of decades few years since I last read one!

The build up to Christmas was sweetly described, and Shirley portrayed some very typical emotions experienced at Christmas very well!

The only thing that disappointed me a little was the reference to church. As a practicing Christian, it would have been nice to see Alfie visit the church/take part in a carol service, as in my mind, Christmas wouldn't exist without Jesus.

Please don't flame me! Obviously you don't want to stuff it down readers' throats - that's not what this book is about, and we are/this book works for a multicultural society as mentioned in a previous post. But I found it sad that Alfie sees mum and grandma go to church, and he stays at home with Dad cooking dinner. I'm not terribly familiar with Alfie books - does he ever get to experience church?

DS picked up on Alfie not going to church, and DD1 hasn't asked me to read it to her again. I shall keep the book on my shelf, and read it some more to DD1, but it's not a book I would reach for first. Sorry.

boatclub Sun 22-Dec-13 17:20:09

I read this to my DSs aged 4 and 6 last night and we all loved it. At first my older boy thought it was going to be too babyish but he was soon drawn in by the illustrations and the way Alfie's preparations for Christmas are similar to our own. The younger one thought he'd like to be friends with Alfie at nursery. I love the timelessness of the characters, pictures and storylines which could have from my own childhood. A Christmas classic - thank you

gazzalw Thu 26-Dec-13 12:30:45

I read it to DD (who at 8 is possibly really too old but DW and I find the stories so heart-warming that who could resist such a lovely story?) on Christmas Eve - fabulous and DD loved it. I think Shirley Hughes' books are ageless and this one could become a gazzalw-family tradition despite our children theoretically being beyond such picture books. She touches something deep within those of us who were post-war babyboomers and it's something that in this house we try hard to imbue in our DCs!

Merry Christmas Mumsnetters!

lookdeepintotheparka Fri 27-Dec-13 20:26:02

Noticed that others have left a review here so just to add our thoughts.

DD and I both really enjoyed the book and loved the illustrations though as said by others, I don't think they are her best ones. The story is gentle with all the excitement and tradition of Christmas described perfectly. As we have friends in Oz, this part of the book made a good talking point!

This will go away in my cupboard with all the other Christmas books for next year which keeps them special. DD took it to school and read the book to her classmates on the last day of term which gave the teacher 5 mins respite and earned her a few brownie points!!

mugglelady Wed 01-Jan-14 17:16:42

I read this to both my 3 year old and nine year old - both really enjoyed it. The illustrations were lovely, and although the story was quite long for the little one the lovely pictures provided good talking points/ helped condense it where required. Overall really enjoyed it.

headintheclouds Fri 03-Jan-14 23:57:17

Thank you for the book. I was very excited to receive it. this is a wonderful book to read in the build up to's a good book for everyone to relate to and enjoy. I loved the illustrations and I think children of all ages ( 8 to 80) will get something from will be on my shelf to get out and read every Christmas with the children or by myself !

sealight123 Mon 06-Jan-14 20:48:12

My 2 year old daughter loves this book! We gave her it for christmas and we had to read it repeatedly all christmas day lol
The illustrations are beautiful and it is more like tradition books that I read as a child smile It is a little big long for my daughter to have read to her in one sitting, but she is quite happy for us to pick up where we left off.

My partner instantly loved this book as his nickname is Alfie hehe

4.5 out of 5 Love it!!

FannyPriceless Tue 07-Jan-14 11:51:54

Thank you for the Alfie book. Our kids enjoyed it several times during the Christmas season, but I wouldn't say loved it as much as the other Alfie books. There isn't really a plot and the illustrations are not quite as charming as previous. However, it is a good book to reflect Christmas traditions. The kids loved the similarities to the things we were doing, with the tree in the window with the lights showing, etc. Will pull out again next Christmas.

helenajane Tue 07-Jan-14 14:17:25

I enjoyed reading this with my niece over the Christmas holidays, she loved it & as with all Shirley Hughes books, the illustrations & her style of writing really appealed as at the time of reading it, we were enjoying Christmas time with all the family around. Lovely book, highly recommended.

Catiinthehat Tue 07-Jan-14 19:38:56

Thank you for this book, we enjoyed it immensely. The story is heartwarming and as usual very well written. It captures the festive period beautifully. Great for kids and grown ups alike.

BadBuddha Tue 14-Jan-14 23:20:07

Thank you so much for the Alfie book, and apologies for the delay in posting. My three year old loved this book - we read it over and over again and I've now put it away with all the Christmas 'stuff' so we can enjoy it all over again next Christmas. I think it will become a Christmas tradition itself grin I'll definitely recommend it to others.

growltigersontheloose Sat 18-Jan-14 18:34:09

This is a very nice book. It is beautifully illustrated, and feels very old-fashioned (in the good way!). It's a sweet story, and captures the excitement of christmas and the traditions very well. My son is too young to appreciate it this year, but I've put it away with the christmas stuff so that we can enjoy it again next year. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it :-)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now