New for 2021, The Christmas Carrolls should be on every child’s wishlist this year! We chatted to author Mel Taylor-Bessent to learn more.
New for 2021, The Christmas Carrolls needs to be in your child’s advent calendar, stocking or under the tree…maybe even all three!
Whatever you do, just make sure a copy makes its way into your home –you won’t regret it!
Lucky enough to secure a pre-publication copy, I hunkered down under some blankets with a large cup of tea and began to learn the story of the Carroll family!
Looking for more activities to enjoy? Click here for other fun ideas.
The Christmas Carrolls Overview
The Christmas Carrolls tells the story of a Christmas obsessed family (and yes, I was surprised to learn that there are people more Christmas obsessed than Hannah and myself, even if they’re fictional!). Holly Carroll and her family celebrate Christmas 365 days of the year, working hard to spread as much Christmas cheer and merriment as possible.
With carols sung every night before bedtime, 7 pet reindeer (+1 donkey who thinks he’s a reindeer), and a wrapping room lined with paper and where ribbon hangs from the ceiling, it does not get more Christmassy than the Carrolls.
But then, they move house…and while Holly is more excited than ever to spread Christmas cheer far and wide she hits a few road blocks along the way.
Whether it’s her grumpy new neighbour campaigning to remove her family from their new home, or her new class not joining in with her morning carol signing, Holly begins to question whether she has been doing everything all wrong by celebrating Christmas year round.
But then something happens which means that some children are in danger of not being able to celebrate Christmas at all.
Will Holly’s Christmas spirit save the day after all?
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A Jolly Festive Review
WOW. WOW. WOW. While I am fully aware that I do not fall in the age range of the target audience for The Christmas Carrolls, I can truly say this is one of the best Christmas books I have read in a very long time.
The story addresses the challenges of fitting in to a society that is not always accepting of those who are different. Using Christmas as the lens through which to examine cultural differences ensures it remains light-hearted while simultaneously making it accessible to its audience.
And while a thread of pre-teen angst is definitely present, the use of humour provides the perfect undertone with which to address an ever-growing issue within society.
What’s more, the story highlights the importance of family and friends, and the magic that happens when all of these things come together in perfect harmony; and let’s be honest, that is the magic of Christmas!
And trust me, when it comes to Christmas, the Carrolls know what they’re doing! Their house jumps off the pages and immediately into your imagination with author Mel Taylor-Bessent’s gorgeous writing. You almost feel as though you are standing inside their house with the fire blazing, the fairy lights twinkling and tinsel everywhere you turn.
There is no way to read this book without feeling full of festive cheer; and perhaps that’s what both Mel and Holly are hoping to achieve!
Behind The Scenes
Questions with the Author
Mel Taylor-Bessent studied creative writing at university, launched Little Star Writing to teach creative writing to budding young writers, created Authorfy, an online platform bringing readers and writers together through masterclasses, activities and school-based resources, and now has her own published book in the form of The Christmas Carrolls!
We were lucky enough to be able to grab a few minutes of Mel’s time in the run up to publication day, to ask her some questions about the book!
How did you first come up with the idea for The Christmas carrolls?
The whole story grew from one scene. I was sitting in my living room one day when the following idea popped into my head, almost fully formed.
I pictured a family looking around a house that was up for sale. They loved everything about it but when they saw the living room, they ran out of the house screaming and crying. And when the estate agent asked why, they explained the house didn’t have a fireplace and if it didn’t have a fireplace, ‘how would Santa visit them on Christmas Eve?’.
The whole story about a Christmas-obsessed family grew from that one scene and then I realised I needed to introduce some other characters so the Carrolls could learn from them – some characters who might not get a Christmas at all.
Are Any of The Characters Based on Real People?
Holly is based a little bit on me and how excitable I am. I get excited over the tiniest of things!
Mr Bleurgh is partly based on my loving but occasionally grumpy grandad.
And Reggie the diva donkey isn’t based on anyone real, but he is inspired by the Disney-esque funny animal sidekick character.
Spread The Word!
Like what you’ve seen? Be sure to share with your friends.
Let’s sprinkle Christmas cheer far and wide!
Who Would You Say is Your Favourite Character?
It would have to be Reggie. He is the pet and best friend I wished I had when I was younger! He’s hilarious, caring and unashamedly himself.
He’s a donkey that just wants to be a reindeer. He may have a limp, a wonky eye and a slobbery tongue that hangs down to his chin, but he adds tons of humour to the book and he’d often strut onto the page when I least expected him!
How Did you Come Up With the Wonderful Array of Words in Holly’s Dictionary?
I love how confident and creative Holly is. If she can’t think of a word, she makes it up, and she doesn’t care if she gets it wrong.
I love that about Holly and wish I was more like that at school – I was always terrified of getting things wrong! She’s had a very Christmassy education so I tried to make a few of her words a bit more festive, too (like ‘ab-snow-lutely!’ and ‘tinsel-tastic!’)
Complete Guide To Year-Round Christmas Shops
Looking for more Jolly Festive Exclusives? Well we’ve scoured the country to create a Complete Guide to all the year round Christmas Shops in England. What’s more, we’ve visited them all too!
What Authors Do You Feel Inspire Your Writing?
I love Laura Dockrill’s writing. It’s bold and confident and she plays with words in such a fun way, I think reading her books really challenged me as a writer.
I also love Abi Elphinstone’s books. ‘Sky Song’ and ‘Rumblestar’ are the books I wish I could write. They’re full of magic, humour, heart and adventure, […] she really inspires me!
What Does Christmas Mean to You?
I’m nowhere near as obsessed with Christmas as the Carrolls are, but I must admit, I still search the skies on Christmas Eve just in case I see Father Christmas flying overhead in his sleigh. I’ve always believed in magic and I always feel like anything is possible at Christmas time.
More Like This?
Looking for other festive activities to enjoy? Whether it’s at home or out and about, we’ve got a whole host of ideas to keep you in the Christmas spirit!
What Do You And Your Family Normally Do For Christmas?
I grew up as an only child, so I had some really special Christmas mornings, just me and my mum, and then we’d go to my grandparent’s house and have a huge Christmas dinner and play party games with my aunts, uncles and cousins.
This year is my first Christmas as a mum myself so I think it’s going to be even more special.
Do you know what is next in the story for Holly & The Carroll Family?
I can’t reveal the official title yet I’m afraid, but I can say that it involves another very Christmassy family, it’s set in October around Halloween, and Holly and the rest of the Carrolls are at risk of losing their cheer entirely!
We’ve scoured the country to create a Complete Guide to the year round Christmas Shops in the UK. What’s more, we’ve visited them all too!
The big day is approaching; have you decided what’s on the menu? Design Your Perfect Christmas Dinner with our picture chart.
For all the Wordle fans out there, why not add a daily Christmas Wordle Challenge to your December tea breaks?