Book review: ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ |

Book review: ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’

Andrew Fersch
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyBook: "A Child's Christmas in Wales"

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of the last hundred years, Dylan Thomas is probably only known to the masses for one poem, “Don’t Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” which was about his fathers death. For all of Thomas’ legendary writing about death, and his well-known love of the drink, it’s a bit odd to have a posthumous upbeat children’s story be his most recent release.

“A Children’s Christmas in Wales” is a Christmas-centered children’s book of magical realism. At times reading like a story, at times reading like a poem, Thomas manages to move back and forth effortlessly, as if in the mind of the young boy who is telling the story of the afternoon of Christmas Eve. As a result, there certainly are times when the writing is confusing, and occasionally borders on nonsensical, but it really doesn’t matter though. The story is gorgeously written, the prose flawless in its holiday delight.

Originally written in 1959 and released in a collection of poems, the story definitely has a strong feel of Christmas past, and there is no doubt Thomas was influenced by his Welsh upbringing in his various references to people, places, and most definitely foods in the story.

Newbery Medal winning illustrator Ellen Raskin’s woodcuts are simplistic and perfect for the story. They match with the mini-book design and make for a visually appealing read, which truly does add to the story itself.

This could be a future classic to read to the children on Christmas Eve in front of the fireplace, drinking sherry and port, eating hardboileds, toffee, crunches, cracknels, and butterwelsh. Well, at the very least, it will definitely be a classic for the Welsh, and a beautiful story for the rest of us.

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