"We're so lucky to have this place,"
Simon's mother would say.
"The caravan may be small,
but it's great to have our own home."
When Simon sees a competition in the newspaper for the best-decorated Christmas house, he is keen to enter. When his mother says she can't afford expensive lights and decorations, Simon decides to decorate their caravan in his own way....
Award-winners Jennifer Beck and Robyn Belton have created an enchanting story about a child's ingenuity and the beauty that can be found in simplicity.
"The Christmas Caravan" is a lovely story that celebrates creativity and social awareness - two qualities that are important to foster in young children. The main character in the book is not a rich boy who is looking forward to being indulged at Christmas time and takes beach holidays for granted - Simon and his mother are not at all well off, and the idea of a holiday is something that has always been beyond their reach.
Simon has artistic abilities, however, so he recycles junk to make his own Christmas decorations and enters a competition to win a beach holiday for himself and his mother. Not only does he succeed in making the caravan which is their home look really special, he cleans up the environment in the process and makes a good impression on his neighbours who realise just how thoughtful he really is.
I like the way that the characters in the book are presented in a positive light and show that it is not where you live that makes you a good citizen; rather, it is HOW you live. Simon and his mother are good people and they care about each other, but they also care about their neighbours and their surroundings. Even the pompous mayor and his councillors are won over by Simon's ingenuity.
When I read the book to my grandchildren, they thought living in a caravan might be quite fun - but then they thought some more and decided that it might be a bit of a squash and they would have to be very tidy! I like the way that the story stimulated some discussion and made them think about what it would be like to live like that. This is certainly a book to buy and to read with younger children rather than to let them read it on their own as there are lots of issues to talk about.
I love Christmas and everything it brings - being a children's book lover as well means that Christmas books are pretty up there on the list that's for sure. I am always excited to see what new ones come out each year and look forward to adding to our collection. My daughter (aged two) loves caravans as her grandparents have one so when I noticed this title up for review I just had to put my hand up. Add to that the fact that we are going camping (with the caravan) at Christmas this year and this book really did sound just perfect for us. I have to say that this book was so much more than I expected and I am not at all disappointed. Not only have I enjoyed sharing this book with my daughter but also with the group of about 40odd children that I teach.
This book is all about Simon and Christmas. Simon lives with his mum in a caravan and he wants to enter the Christmas lights competition just like everyone else. The fact that they don't live in a house and don't have money to buy Christmas lights doesn't worry Simon. He simply finds a way to achieve his goal, using recycled stuff from the caravan park - where there is a will there's a way! I loved the positive healthy messages this book sends/teaches children, especially when its about Christmas which can so easily become a time of year that's centred around money.
My daughter (two) listened to all of this story with ease and we enjoyed looking at the pictures and pointing out different things together. The children I teach (aged three to five years) equally enjoyed this book and following on from this we had lots of discussion about money, different homes and Christmas. Some of the ideas explored in this book are a little bit above my daughters comprehension just yet but we have already started to teach her these things (not everything is about money etc) so I liked that this book backed up how we live/bring up our children. I know she will only continue to grow into it as she understands more and more.
I liked the illustrations in this book and have found that the more we re-read the book the more my daughter notices and points out. I wouldn't at all be surprised if she tries to decorate her nana and poppas caravan with shells this Christmas! This has been especially good with a recent stay in hospital - this book has been more than just something to read and at times we have used it like an eye spy book (where is the scallop shell etc). It's definitely fast become a firm favourite with her asking for "my caravan book" each night.
Overall a beautiful children's book that celebrates Christmas and what this truly means for many - to be together and to be happy. A book I fully recommend to others and one that I know I will use for many, many years to come! ^ :)
I love Christmas stories and it is so exciting to see new stories coming out each year. This one looked quite different to the other Christmas books I have read before. A friend warned me before I read it that she was a bit teary after reading it to herself. I was wondering how the kids would handle it when I read it to them! I can see why she would have reacted that way but I am glad that I shared it with my kids.
It was a joy to read this book as it was refreshing and quite different. The story highlights the fact that money is not everything and it is not what creates happiness. Happiness is something from within and is also developed by the family you are in and the people you interact with. This book is about Simon and his Mum. They live in a caravan and it is their home.
When I read it to my children I found that it was a chance to explain how different families live and the expectations people have about their homes and where they live. We are very lucky to live in a warm, nice house and I think that it is important for our children to understand the fact that we are so lucky. I also want them to know that just because we live in a house, it doesn't make us any better than a family who live in the likes of a caravan. Home is home!
The illustrations are beautiful and I particularly enjoyed the illustrations of the Christmas lights. They looked realistic and quite beautiful. My children were impressed by them as well. The illustrations of Simon made me think of my little boy. In fact, his character did as well. He is a little boy full of love and positivity.
Regardless of money, I like to bring my children up to create things and recycle items. This book provided a great chance to discuss that we should appreciate what we have and not try to compete against people using material items.
This is a feel good story. It really draws on people's emotions as they read. My children were really feeling for Simon. We talked about how Simon would be feeling when his home wasn't even listed as part of the Christmas decoration competition. The kids were quite insightful about how the situation would affect him.
I think that this is a story that adults will enjoy while reading to their children. I know that it inspired me for the education I provide to the kids whilst also making me feel humble. This book was very special.
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'