This collection of short stories by eleven acclaimed children’s writers is a beautiful physical object. Reminiscent of classic book covers, it would make an excellent gift for any young reader. Even the end pages, featuring the authors’ signatures amid snowflakes, is a clever touch, and makes the collection seem more personal.
Inside, the pages feature all the trimmings of winter – frost fairs, elf magic, gingerbread, husky dogs and snow dragons. The collection features animal stories, historical fiction (featuring time travel), murder mysteries and magical adventures. Fans of the Potion Diaries series will be delighted with The Magic of Midwinter by Amy Alward, featuring alchemist Samantha Kemi and her friend, Princess Evelyn, as they go on an adventure to Svenland to visit the elves. Katherine Woodfine’s story, Caisse-Noisette, is as painstakingly researched as we have come to expect. Based on the history of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the story follows twelve year old Stanislava (the first person to play Clara) as she prepares for the role of Clara in The Nutcracker, despite her worries for her sick sister Olga. The story has a very sweet ending, and the historical element adds an extra dimension to the story. The Voice in the Snow by Michelle Harrison is quite dark – the subject matter focuses on a girl whose voice has been taken from her – and may have benefitted from judicious editing. It is the longest story in the collection, and unfortunately it feels the longest.
Overall, this is a lovely collection of stories, in a beautiful physical book.