Jacinta Froud and Gabriella Petruso– Jingle Belly

Larrikin House, Australia, 2021

This is a slightly irreverent Christmas book, as we might expect from this publisher, whose stated commitment is to ‘quirky, original and humorous kid-focussed books’.

Barbie talks to Jacinta Froud about Jingle Belly

It’s the tale of a naughty wonder dog called Eddie. Eddie has a loving family but loves to get up to all kinds of mischief from drinking out of the toilet to chewing holes in Nanna’s sarong. He’s also a great escape artist. It’s Eddie’s chewing habits that get him into trouble on Christmas Eve when he takes the angel from the top of the tree. As with all things swallowed, the end is inevitable.

This is a book written and illustrated for the sheer fun of it. The story is told in rollicking rhyme with a sense of the ridiculous and full of the sorts of details that young readers enjoy. The adults are often perplexed, the kids amused and Eddie is always top dog, even when doing unsavoury things.

Gabriella Petruso’s bright and humorous illustrations tell the story as artfully as Jacinta’s text, with delightful characterisations, vivid colours and lots of movement. There are plenty of fun little things for kids to spot on every page and they’re bound to be over the moon to be disgusted at the end.

I’m a great fan of fun for its own sake. Children and adults deserve it if life allows, and this book will certainly provide a very happy shared reading experience for families or school classrooms.

Thank you to Larrikin House for my review copy and to Jacinta for such an enjoyable chat about this book and about the importance of engaged reading for young people.