#BookReview: The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent, illustrated by Selom Sunu @FarshoreBooks #TheChristmasCarrolls #mglit #kidlit #damppebbles

“Funny festive middle grade about the world’s most Christmassy family from the founder of Authorfy, perfect for 8+ readers and fans of Matt Haig, Ben Miller, Sibeal Pounder’s Tinsel, and the Nativity! films

Wish it could be Christmas every day? Well, for nine-year-old Holly Carroll and her family, it is! Living her merriest life in a house with year-round fairy lights and Christmas trees, a carol-singing toilet and a diva donkey who thinks he’s a reindeer, home-schooled Holly tries to spread cheer wherever she goes.

But when she goes to a new school with a singing Santa backpack and first day Christmas cards (during a heatwave in September!), she realises not everyone shares her enthusiasm for spreading cheer. In fact, when the neighbours try to remove the Carrolls from the street and Holly discovers a group of children that may not get a Christmas at all, her snowglobe world begins to crack. Is the world’s most Christmassy girl about to lose her Christmas spirit?

The Christmas Carrolls is a heartwarming, hilarious and inclusive tale about the power of spreading cheer, the magic of friendship and what really matters at this most wonderful time of the year.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Christmas Carrolls written by Mel Taylor-Bessent and illustrated by Selom Sunu which was published by Farshore Books on 14th October 2021 in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Christmas Carrolls but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rachel and Farshore Books for sending me a proof copy.

Joining me to shout about this wonderful festive book today is my favourite damppebbles guest reviewer (don’t tell the husband!), my 10 year old daughter. When we were offered the chance to read The Christmas Carrolls we squealed with delight and grabbed at it with grateful, eager hands. My daughter, unable to wait for the book to actually arrive, started reading it thanks to a well-known book selling site. Only to burst into fits of laughter as Holly asks the reader in the opening paragraph if an idea has ever hit them so hard they fell off the toilet. She then proceeds to describe the feeling of falling into the loo, comparing it to a thrilling water ride at a theme park! My daughter was in hysterics, and I knew she had found a new favourite read.

Holly Carroll loves Christmas. Which is a fairly normal thing for a nine-year-old. But Holly’s family are as equally smitten with the festive season as Holly is. So much so, they live Christmas and all it’s accoutrements 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Every day is Christmas for the Carrolls. So when the opportunity to move to a house on Sleigh Ride Avenue arises, the third most Christmassy named street in the world, Holly’s parents – Snow and Nick – pack up their belongings and move the family to London. The move leads to necessary changes within the family. Snow and Nick need to find new employment which means previously home-schooled Holly must start attending Lockerton Primary. She’s excited about the new challenges ahead and, if truth be told, just a little bit nervous too. But she’s used to spreading cheer wherever she goes and starting school will be no different. But after several days of trying to bring festive joy and the Christmas spirit to her classmates, it becomes clear that not everyone is as keen on Christmas as Holly is…

I’ll share my thoughts on this fun-filled middle grade read in a tick but first, here’s what the most important person, my 10 year-old daughter, thought of The Christmas Carrolls

The Christmas Carrolls is a book about being yourself and how it’s OK to be different. I liked this book because Holly is different to other people but she can still make friends despite being a little different to her classmates. I think the moral of the story is that you don’t have to fit in with everyone else, you should always be yourself. I like how intelligent Holly is and how she wants to be an inventor. I also like how Holly’s mum has changed her name to Snow. Holly’s dad is a keen inventor. My favourite character was Reggie because he is a cheeky little donkey (reindeer) and I love animals. I think people who like Christmas will like this book. The perfect book to read in front of your fire drinking a hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream on it. I would give this book 5/5 stars.

I’ll admit it, I’m on the ‘bah humbug’ side of things a little when it comes to Christmas. I know, I know. Not the best person to be reading a Christmas book. But G and I couldn’t resist this festive adventure. And I’m delighted to confirm reading The Christmas Carrolls turned this Scrooge into a someone who was looking forward to Christmas a little bit more after turning the last page. I found Holly’s enthusiasm for the festive season to be infectious. The made-up words, the silliness and the crazy antics of the Carroll family all added up to a joyful story which this grown-up enjoyed just as much as the book’s intended middle-grade audience.

The beautiful pencil-drawn illustrations throughout the novel really add something extra special to a well-written, heart-warming story. I really appreciated the skill that had gone into creating these works of art. I know my daughter was a fan of the artwork too and we often spoke about what was happening in the sketches. I felt the take home message was clear for young readers to pick up on and understand.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Christmas Carrolls is a well-written, laugh out loud middle-grade adventure with a large, sparkly dollop of Christmas cheer and a mince pie on top! The characters were clearly defined and I particularly liked grumpy Mr Bleurgh. He’s the panto baddie who we all ‘boooooo’ when he walks on stage, which is exactly what I was doing in my own head every time he was mentioned. I loved everything about this gorgeous festive novel and both G and I are looking forward to The Christmas Carrolls 2 soon. An uplifting, feel good read. The perfect Christmas gift for the middle grader in your life. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Christmas Carrolls. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent, illustrated by Selom Sunu was published in the UK by Farshore Books on 14th October 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

See the source imageFounder of the hugely successful Authorfy and Little Star Writing, Mel Taylor-Bessent has made her career connecting readers to their favourite authors and encouraging children to write for pleasure. After gaining a Creative Writing degree, Mel launched her first business at the age of 22 and ran creative writing workshops for thousands of children aged 6-12. As a result, she also arranged hundreds of author events and witnessed first-hand the positive impact these interactions had on her students.

In 2017, she decided to replicate this via online ‘Author Masterclasses’ on a website she created called Authorfy.com. Since then, Authorfy has gone on to win numerous awards, partner with the likes of World Book Day and BookTrust, and is used in classrooms all over the world. Now Mel is bringing her own writing to readers with The Christmas Carrolls, her debut fiction series.

See the source image

Selom Sunu is a London-based Illustrator and Character Designer who enjoys bringing characters to life visually.

He is a people person through and through and tries to bring his interactions with people and their various quirks into his work.

Selom has worked on a number of book projects including illustrations in ‘Puffin’s Book of Big Dreams’ for Puffin’s 80th birthday and ‘Ghost’, a New York Times Best Seller with publisher Knights Of and author Jason Reynolds.

Selom has also lent his drawing skills to Animation studios, providing Character Designs for various TV series pitches. He is also passionate about encouraging others to draw for fun and has run workshops for children and adults to that effect.

Outside work Selom enjoys playing football and is a devoted Christian, husband and father.

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