One Christmas Eve Grandpa takes Bella to Luna Park (in Melbourne, Australia). He hands her a silver coin to use on a ride. Bella looks at the roller-coaster, the ghost train ride and the giggle palace, but she is drawn to a special horse on the sparkling carousel. When she climbs on her spotted carousel horse, something magical happens and Bella and her horse fly up into the night skies above Melbourne where they encounter a jolly man in a red suit.
“One Christmas Eve” is created by two talented Australians, author Corinne Fenton and illustrator Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. The story is set in Melbourne, Australia in 1968  and the illustrations accurately convey the nostalgic charm of that era. The bold, vibrant colours of the vintage carousel and the blue of the evening skies make you feel like a kid all over again.
This book’s award-winning author Corinne Fenton has penned quite a few delightful children’s books. Her writing interests extend to social history, and she often uses real-life historical characters for her books. Animals feature in almost every one of them: dogs, elephants, pony… She says “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rescued a stranded animal. It’s become something of a joke with my friends”.
My son and I love Corinne’s “Dog on the Tuckerbox”, “Bob the Railway Dog” and “Little Dog and the Christmas Wish”. The latter (like “One Christmas Eve”) has been chosen for the Myer Christmas Windows in 2015.
Of her process, Corinne says: “I can spend weeks — even months getting just the right word. I know I drive my editors mad. I love research, and it’s been suggested more than once that I could probably be a private detective if I wanted a change of career. While I love the writing and research, in the end it is the feedback from my young readers that makes it all worthwhile.”
Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, an award-winning illustrator of “One Christmas Eve”, was very young when she decided to be an illustrator. “When I was a little girl I escaped to the library as often as possible where I spent hours devouring picture books and minutely examining their illustrations”, she notes of her creative origins.
Marjorie moved from America to Australia, and we are now the fortunate beneficiaries of her creative pursuits. She was awarded the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for her first picture book, Killer Plants. Her books featured on Premier’s Reading Challenge lists as well as shortlists of Wilderness Society Environment Award and Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year.
“One Christmas Eve” is a delightful flight of fantasy that is sure to bring wide-eyed wonderment to any young child at Christmas.
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