*For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage*
(suggested) interest age: 6-11
(suggested) reading age: 7+
Illustrations: Gino Alberti
A lovely, unexpected find that calls to be shared at Christmas. An international gem with a simple message of kindness at it’s heart.
I want to mention this little book, which is a great example of international collaboration. This is Llio Elenid's Welsh adaptation of Linda Wolfsgruber's original German story from 1988. The book was illustrated by an Italian, Gino Alberti, was printed in Slovakia and originally published by a Swiss publisher. It has a distinctly European flavour.
With its linen hardback cover, it looks and feels quite different to the usual books you see these days. It’s nice to have the opportunity to read an adaptation from another country other than England for a change. It’d be nice to see more, actually.
In an age where everything is bright, busy and frankly, noisy, it's nice enjoy a rather more traditional, slower paced story. There's something old-fashioned about it (in a good way) and the illustrations have a classic feel.
For your £7.95, you also get a wrap-around, which lets you to cut out a gift of your own, so you can gift your own little red parcel. But to be honest, I don’t see me putting a scissor to this one. Photocopy it is then.
"You can't open the red parcel, but you can give it to someone else,"
On the surface, this is a story about a little girl who goes to stay to her grandmother, bringing great joy to the old lady. But there's more to it than this. In a society where everyone is busy going about their business, often with no time to talk to each other, grandma decides to make a big difference by means of a small act. She simply gives a small gift to a stranger.
Anna (the little girl) is confused as grandma hands the man a small red package. The only condition – no one can open the little red parcel. What secrets does it hide? Is there gold inside? Or perhaps expensive gems? No. There’s nothing inside but happiness and good fortune.
"No, Anna. One is enough."
To the girl's surprise, grandma is confident that only one gift was needed, to light the flame of kindness that rapidly spreads across the village.
And whilst it's a very simple story, the message is an important one. Especially in a modern world where the true meaning of Christmas gets lost amidst the hustle and bustle of it all. It's not really about the parties, the feasting, the spending and the presents but we’re all guilty of forgetting that sometimes.
For me, the book is a celebration of 'community' – where everyone is reminded to notice the little things and to look out for each other. Over Christmas, take a minute to stop and talk, lend a helping hand, or wish someone well. Maybe a neighbour, or a family member you haven't seen in awhile?
I don't think I’d read the story with children under 5 years old, because I think the message will go over their heads and the book may be a little boring for them. But for children between 6-9, I think the story is perfect to share in front of the fire on Christmas Eve. For me, this is one I’d certainly use in a school morning assembly.
What’s inside the parcel isn’t really important; it’s the act of kindness in giving the parcel as a gift that matters. If you do someone a kind turn, hopefully someone will repay the favour one day.