Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent Treat 3: Findus at Christmas... a book review

Findus At Christmas (Findus and Pettson)

Our third and final Advent treat was another new book in the Winter Books basket: Findus at Christmas, by Sven Nordqvist.  We all love laughing over Findus and Pettson's silly adventures in Pancakes for Findus, but until now have not read any of their other tales.  

Findus is a clever, witty cat.  Pettson is his rather absent-minded owner.  On Christmas Eve, they suddenly find that through an unfortunate accident while attempting to procure their tree, they have no way of doing their food shopping and will have to do without... Christmas dinner!

But Findus and Pettson immediately begin to make the most of what could have been an awful situation. With a persisting attitude of ingenuity they create a Christmas tree from what they have on hand, and are soon happily surprised by a visit from the neighbours.

This is where the story really comes into its own.  For by the end of the book, all of their closest neighbours have crowded into their home, generously sharing what they have by bringing Christmas food and treats to Pettson and his cat.

I saved this book for last because it really is brilliant, a treat worth waiting for.

For starters, the humour is far and above better than most children's books.  Sharp, quick, and sometimes sarcastic, it immediately grabbed my kids' attention and started them laughing.  Near the beginning of the story, Findus scrubs the kitchen floor, then decides he is too tired and cannot be bothered to dry it.  "Well boo hoo for you," Pettson replies.  Mr J laughed immediately and I did too. In our family, I'm not ashamed to admit that we appreciate a fair amount of sarcasm, subtle enough to be missed by strangers and gentle enough to refrain from offending.

The illustrations, as Dan later pointed out, are incredibly detailed, providing vivid portraits of plot development that tie the story firmly together.  Findus' facial expressions and his dramatic gestures are priceless.  Pettson's visual portrayal fits his written description amazingly.

Findus at Christmas is a tale that realistically celebrates the wonder of kindness and sharing as a community of friends and neighbours. After reading it, I found myself ruminating on the sub-plot: Findus' and Pettson's resourceful desire to make the best of their situation and using what they had on hand to improve it.  Mr J enjoyed pointing out the interesting objects they chose to put on their Christmas tree as ornaments: a fork, an old used paintbrush stained with red paint, etc.

Timely.  For once again, we've found ourselves facing illness during the holidays.  It's nothing serious, just enough to drag us all down a bit and make us wonder why; it's the third year in row that at least one  of us has been ill at Christmas!

So the reminder contained within this book, of choosing to make the best of our situation no matter what, is a simple one that all the kids immediately understood.  Mama needed that reminder too!

I've found myself making the best of it in spite of my expectations, which had been high.  No one wants to be ill.  But it happens.  I've stayed well, so for me the last week has been full of cleaning, laundry, and tidying alone, thinking and writing about my Grandma [who passed away last Saturday], and baking and arranging Christmas cookies for the families on our street.  Giving these out as a family will be our final Advent activity.

So, on to tomorrow.  Cranberry cake and stuffing to be made for Christmas Day... chocolate cupcakes with cappuccino butter icing to bake for Boxing Day Big Feed... Christmas Eve dinner with friends to prepare... and somewhere in there squeeze in an hour to help Lefty sew a drawstring bag to carry his gift for Mr J.

In fact, that's going to be the first thing on my list for tomorrow.  Sitting down with my tall, ginger, nine-year old and spending some quality time as he refines his sewing skills.  He needs the creative time, and so do I!  

1 comment:

  1. Sorry that there is sickness!!! Hope they get well soon. The beginings of the book reminded me of our house last night when someone hung up 2 old dirty ski socks as 'stockings' ha ha...a joint decorating adventure to ensue later this evening...hugs xx


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