Winter Magic

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Title: Winter Magic

Writer: Various edited by Abi Elphinstone

Publishing House: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Date of Publication: October 19th 2017 (first published November 3rd 2016)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Winter is a season that sparkles with magic and transforms our ordinary world into a glittering kingdom: rooftops covered in snow, lakes glazed with ice and windows frosted white. It is a time of year that invites exploration and whispers of adventure. And at the heart of it all there is a sense of longing – for snowflakes, stocking and sledging, of course – but also, for stories.’’

There is magic in winter. In the tales of the cold, the darkness and the silence. In the creatures that find shelter in the snow, in the ones that rejoice over the silent lullaby of the snowflakes. The perfection that is hidden in this beautiful volume is depicted in the wonderful cover designed by Melissa Castrillon.

Without further ado…

‘’People need their freedom, Maya. They need to breathe.’’

A Night at the Frost Fair (Emma Carroll): There is magic in a bite of gingerbread. There are dreams dancing amidst the crowd at the frost fair. There is freedom in the night air when a girl goes on an exciting adventure guided by her wise grandmother.

The Magic of Midwinter (Amy Alward): Svenland elves deliver presents to the children but they aren’t particularly fond of people. But a princess wishes to see them and an adventure of fairy lights and baubles in a Winter Wonderland begins.

‘’One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth. Five for heaven, six for Hell, seven you’ll meet the Devil himself.’’

The Voice In The Snow (Michelle Harrison): A baby girl is born without a voice. Dolls of straw are burnt in a bonfire during the Summoning so that the lost return to their loved ones. A haunting tale of childhood and motherhood. Or the lack of it.

‘’Then did the angels weep tears of red blood. […] And we were sunk into darkness and the place of wailing and chattering of teeth.’’

The Cold-Hearted (Geraldine McCaughrean): A Scottish village cursed to remain frozen in time and darkness. A boy who tries to save his family in a story that is exciting and hilarious. It is Scotland, after all. Anything can happen.

‘’Now she was stepping through a pine forest, glittering with frost in the moonlight, her footsteps crunching in the snow. She was gliding through St Petersburg’s most elegant ballroom, twirling in a silk dress, her skirts spinning out as she danced beneath the twinkling chandeliers. Then she felt the warmth of the fire against her face, and smelled the scent of home; she saw the candles on the Christmas tree, decorated with Mama’s homemade gingerbread angels; and she was kneeling on the rug with Olga, drinking tea with jam.’’

Casse-Noisette (Katherine Woodfine): The majestic city of St Peterburg is about to welcome Christmas. But a promising ballerina is on a personal quest to dance for the sake of her sister. A beautiful story set in the City of Cities and the world of ballet. I mean, can you resist the stage of the glorious Marinsky Theatre? Or Tchaikovsky? Or Pepita? Or Anna Pavlova? Or the world of The Nutcracker? Or Russia and her wonders? This is the jewel in the crown of the collection. Just leave me here.

‘’Can you hear the snow whispering, Orla? Can you hear the ice?’’

Someone Like the Snow Queen (Berlie Doherty): Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen is one of the most haunting and enticing fairy tales. In this enchanting story, we follow a girl who tries to find her little brother while struggling to come to terms with her father’s death.

The Room With the Mountain View (Lauren St John): After three marvellous stories, this tale about an injured girl that tries to solve a mystery in a French ski resort seemed naive and spiritless. The circus company, the Hitchcock echoes, the villains. I don’t know. I didn’t enjoy the writing or the characters.

‘’Feel, Old teddy, with your paw

The coldness of the window pane,

Watch me blow onto the glass

And draw a picture of a train.’’

Snow (Michelle Magorian): What a beautiful poem!

‘’Everymother whoever cried

Whoever loved and ever sighed

Whoever lost a child that died

Whoever grieved and ever wept

Whoever paced and never slept

I am Everymother.’’

Into the Mountain (Jamila Gavin): A beautiful retelling of The Pied Piper, an ode to motherhood and the innocence of our lost childhood.

The Wishing Book (Piers Torday): A girl has to cope with a horrible stepmother and her ‘’grandma’’. Thank God for Granny Bike and her special Wishing Book, But we must always be careful with our wishes. I’m not sure about this story. I don’t think I appreciated the direction in the end. In my book, some people are beyond forgiveness…

The Snow Dragon (Abi Elphinstone): This story contains some of the most beautiful winter descriptions I’ve ever read. And one of the most horrible characters with such a deep hatred for children that made me physically sick. A girl in an orphanage has been waiting for a family for years. And then, a dragon shows up…

‘’It was the first snow of the winter and it had come silently in the night – the way magic often does – but unlike the shadows and the moonbeams and the stars, this magic had stayed until morning. It had covered her ordinary world and transformed it into a glittering white kingdom, and as Phoebe looked upon it, her body tingled. The snow felt like a promise somehow, a pledge that today might be different from all the other days and that possibly, just possibly, there might be even more magic waiting for her.’’