One of my absolute favourite Christmas books this week.
Graham Oakley’s wonderful Church Mice books have been a well-loved part of childhood since their first outing in 1972. Published in 1980, The Church Mice at Christmas is the seventh title in the series and sees Arthur, Humphrey and rest of the canny church mice trying various schemes to raise money for a slap-up Christmas party. As usual, Sampson the gentle and long-suffering Church Cat is on the receiving end of their plans, as the mice hold a raffle with Sampson as the prize. Along the way they pose as Father Christmas, disrupt a toy shop in a department store and manage to foil a burglary. Will they get their Christmas party after all?
The Church Mice are simply adorable. Their determination to achieve their dream of a wonderful Christmas party will have you rooting for them, and their utter belief in Santa and in the power of a Christmas wish is enchanting. Equally gorgeous are the exquisite illustrations. Oakley is a master of detail. Every page has a score of stories going on in the background. The characters of the mice and Sampson are wonderfully drawn and Oakley packs more expression into those tiny mice than you will think possible. I can pour over the illustrations in any of Oakley’s books for hours, taking in new detail each time.