One of my favourite book bloggers is Golden Books Girl and I was very pleased when Amy invited me to take part in her 12 Days of Bookmas over on Instagram. She asked if I would post about a brilliant festive book so, of course, I knew I had to choose a one that gave young readers a taste of a historical Christmas.
Sally Nicholls’ A Christmas In Time is a warm and inviting hug of an adventure that is filled with information about family life and Christmas in Victorian England. It is part of her …In Time series in which we join Alex and Ruby Pilgrim whose aunt runs a bed a breakfast in the house that has been home to their family for generations, Applecott House. In one of the rooms there is a magical mirror that allows them to travel back in time and meet the people who lived there before.
This Christmas Alex and Ruby are staying at Aunt Joanna’s to help prepare everything for her guests, but the time-travelling mirror has other ideas and soon whisks them back to 1872 where Applecott House is home to a different generation of Pilgrims. They are greeted by Marian Pilgrim who, to their amazement, already knows them from another time and she introduces them to her energetic, noisy and welcoming family and they show us what Christmas was like 150 years ago.
From the moment they arrive Nicholls cleverly teaches us about the Victorian era as our contemporary time-travellers experience it. From the lack of central heating to the unfamiliar underwear, from the gas lighting and surprising Christmas breakfast to the appalling conditions of some schools, she manages to weave an enormous amount of information into the story of a single joyful family.
One of the rules of Alex and Ruby’s journey is that they are ‘sent to the past to right wrongs’, and it quickly becomes clear that their purpose might have something to do with the family’s visiting cousin, Edith. She and her father lived in India but, after the death of her mother, they have returned to England to make arrangements for her education. Will Edith go to her new school, or will the Pilgrims persuade her father to let her stay with them?
Alex and Ruby experience a Victorian Christmas through the sights, smells, clothes, food, presents, activities and, most importantly, the people who invite them into their lives. It is a kind and fun way to learn about the past and I love how our heroes connect with their own family and the history contained inside Applecott House. A Christmas In Time’s message is not just that Christmas is for family, but that history is too. Our grandparents and great-grandparents experienced a different version of our world and our family tree can be a wonderful way to learn about the past.
There are currently four books in Nicholls’ …In Time series but all of them can be read as standalone titles. They are published by Nosy Crow and this is my personal copy of A Christmas In Time. The beautiful cover illustration is by Isabelle Follath and the fantastic interior images are by Rachael Dean.
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