Saturday 14 November 2015

My Festive Reads: The Fox At The Manger by P L Travers

It's Christmas Eve and a family are the carol service at St Paul's Cathedral. The three young boys are quite fidgety until their mother tells them the story of Jesus's birth from the perspective of the animals present, including a cunning fox.
The first thing that attracted me to The Fox At The Manger was the gorgeous cover. I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but I couldn't help it. I was also drawn in by the author, P L Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins and thought the book would make a lovely family festive read. My daughters (aged 6 and 12) and I read the book together in small chunks each evening and although it was a little wordy (and contained words even I hadn't heard of) we enjoyed it. I was quite surprised by how little of the fox we actually hear about - he didn't make an appearance until near the end - but I thought it was an enchanting tale of a post-war Christmas. My favourite part of the book was near the end as the family make their way home after the service and the children imagine what gifts different animals could bring to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
As the book is quite short at just 80 pages, this makes an ideal quick festive read to enjoy during the run-up to Christmas - perhaps even on Christmas Eve itself. It's probably more enjoyable for an adult to read rather than a child as a lot of the book centres on the mother's observations rather than the actual tale of the fox at the manger. Although not a great deal happens in the book, I did think it was a charming little read.

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