I’ve had Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien sitting on my shelf for years, but I kept forgetting it was there. I finally decided to listen to the audiobook version since I wasn’t having a lot of actual reading time. I wish I had read it sooner.
All of the letters were written by Tolkien to his children (often, but not always, named in the letters) as if they were from Father Christmas (Santa Claus). They tell all about his various adventures delivering presents, preparing for Christmas Eve, and his interactions with his elves and the animals at the North Pole. Sometimes, there are parts written by the elves, though my favorites were by the North Polar Bear. There is even talk of goblins, perhaps hinting at his future works in Middle-Earth.
While occasionally mentioning hard subjects for children (and adults, even), the Letters from Father Christmas maintain a light-hearted feel that makes them appropriate for kids of all ages. Father Christmas definitely knows a lot about the Tolkien children (I wonder how that is?), and he points out all kinds of things they are doing well and things on which they can improve.
The illustrations by Tolkien are delightful (I have the printed version of this book, too). I recommend getting both the printed and the audio version so you can follow along as Derek Jacobi, Christian Rodska, and John Moffatt take you on this amazing journey through the inner workings of the North Pole. They do an excellent job with all the voices.
At just over two hours long, Letters from Father Christmas is a quick listen. However, it is one of my favorite audiobooks to date. The narration is wonderful, the story itself is delightful, and this is something to be enjoyed by all on an annual basis. Start a new tradition and read this to your children every year. I highly recommend it!
Original Release Date: October 19, 1976 (UK)
Audiobook Release Date: October 4, 2005 (US/UK)
Original ISBNs: 0395249813 (9780395249819)
Original Publisher: George Allen & Unwin
Audiobook Publisher: HarperCollins
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief mention of a pipe)