Secrets of a Christmas Box

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I would like to start off by saying that Secrets of the Christmas Box by Steven Hornby has an adorable cover and cute illustrations throughout. The premise of this children's book is also cute -- the christmas tree ornaments come to life after the family goes to bed and embark on an adventure throughout the house.

Before reading any further, I must let you know I did not finish this book. I tried but just could not do it. I finished about a quarter of the book and kept expecting for something to happen or for the charm to kick in and I found this lacking in both. I then would remind myself it was a children's book and, thus, tried to adjust my expectations; but, this was also to no avail. So I will be reviewing this book based on the quarter I read. I will give you a disclaimer that this book currently has an average of 4 1/2 stars out of the 14 reviews on Amazon. That being said, here are some of my thoughts.

The book starts out with the family bringing home the Christmas tree and putting up the ornaments. After the family goes to bed, the ornaments wake up and say hi to each other after their almost year-long sleep. They're all portrayed as "people" with human personalities, and the tree's tinsel is portrayed as a dog. Shortly after waking up, Larry the Snowman realizes his brother is missing so he looks all over the tree for him. The reader is led to believe that Larry's brother was one of the unfortunate ornaments that was broken during the year-long storage. Larry also meets a new ornament that the family has bought since last Christmas. This is about the extent of the story after about the first quarter.

One of the main problems with this book is that it is a children's book in the format of a full-length novel. It's not merely a children's story or a young adult novel; it is truly a book written at the 7-year-old (ish) level. The characters are one-dimensional and the plot is superficial. When I mentioned the characters wake up and say hi to each other, it seems as though this really is all that happens. The anticipation of an adorable story kept me reading, but other than that, I didn't look forward to it at all. Had this been written as a much shorter children's/early reader chapter book or even a children's picture book it would have worked much better.

In reviewing the author's website, I learned he is heavily involved in the movie industry as an animator. In fact, this book was originally meant to be a screenplay and then changed into a children's novel. I think he should have kept it as a screenplay because I could see this being a cute movie. This may be the case of someone being a good storyteller but not a great writer, and I do believe there is a difference. Nevertheless, this book does appear to have a big fan base, so it may be smart to find out what other readers liked about this book.


Laughing Stars said...

That is a really cute cover. Thank you for the honest review.

Jenny said...

I feel bad saying not nice things, but it's truly how I felt. Not that everyone would feel that way though!

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