Hardie Grant Explore, Australia, 2023
Design Tania McCartney
This is the fourth Plume book and, I believe, the most visually beautiful of the little penguin stories created by author-illustrator Tania McCartney. Clearly Tania is a fan of Christmas and all its celebratory fun and colour, trees, lights and tinsel.
The Plume stories all carry gentle lessons and this one is no exception, with the clear invitation to value the original Christmas message of love. Being with family and friends is the greatest pleasure of Christmas for many people and our little black and white chaps are no exception despite originally craving more and more presents.
The magic of the Santa Claus story is also an important part of this book. When sickness strikes the elves at the North Pole, Plume and Ava the Albatross feel called to save Christmas. We can’t have broken hearted children when the presents aren’t under the Christmas tree!
Even more alarming is the fact that Santa and the reindeer become ill on Christmas Eve. Plume and Ava come to the rescue again and, with a little bit of Christmas magic dust, they set off to do the deliveries across the Christian world before Christmas morning.
This is where the travel theme that links all these books comes in. The pair visit Sweden, England, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Puerta Rico, the USA, Colombia, the Philippines and finally Australia.
In each place they experience the local Christmas traditions and food. Finally returning to the Antarctic, Plume and Ava lose their magic powers just as they come in to land.
The initial disappointment is skilfully drawn on the faces of Tania’s penguins. However, the day is saved by the gifts Plume has received form his friends on his travels, and his companions soon realise the true gift of the season.
This book will delight young children and all their adults who love Christmas in its glorious messiness and sparkle.
It’s a happy book that allows us all to enjoy the art of giving and receiving whilst, quietly reminding us of the intangible gift the season offers.
Plume Christmas Elf is another triumph for Tania McCartney and one bound to be enjoyed in homes, schools and childcare centres well beyond the Christmas period.