Having loved the first of Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, The Petal Planet by Natalie Page with illustrations by Chris Rivers Nuttall (my review of which you can read here), I’m delighted to be starting off the launch celebrations of the second book in the series Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, Tinsel Town. Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, Tinsel Town is available for purchase in paperback here.
Today I have a lovely guest post from Natalie all about her favourite Christmas stories and I have my review of Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, Tinsel Town too.
Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, Tinsel Town
Best friends Zak and Jen love exploring space using their magic umbrellas.
This time, they find a Christmas themed planet, but there is one thing missing, the inhabitants!
Join the characters as they make some festive friends, and realise how important it is to appreciate every day. Tinsel Town is written for children over five years old, however, younger children will also enjoy the rhythm of the story and its festive theme.
My Favourite Christmas Story
A Guest Post by Natalie Page
I am so delighted to have the chance to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag. Linda was kind enough to review my debut children’s book and I am so pleased that she agreed to review my second!
So, in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to take some time to share my favourite Christmas stories with you. Aside from the original nativity story, I have two favourite Christmas stories. The first is A Christmas Carol by the great Charles Dickens and the second is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
The reason I love both these tales is because I am a bit of a traditionalist at heart and both choices also stem from childhood memories. When I was a young girl, I read Little Women and I instantly fell in love with the coming of age story. I always saw myself as a combination of the responsible Meg and the feisty Jo. Then, when I was older, my family and I used to watch a film adaptation of the book starring Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh. It was perfect comfort viewing and I often went back to the book as a result. In fact, now is probably the first time in years that I don’t actually own a copy!
There are several reasons why I love this story so much, and if you haven’t had the chance to read it, I strongly recommend you do so. The book is set in America at the time of the civil war and tells the story of four sisters and their progression into adulthood. The strong family bond that exists within the March family is the thing that attracted me to the story initially as it was something I share with my own family. Similarly, the closeness of the sisters was something I shared with my own sister although at the time I do recall thinking that 3 sisters would have been a couple too many! Finally, I loved the characters. In particular, I really related to Jo’s desire to be a writer. Jo was so full of determination and guts, she struck out on her own and I really admired her for doing that. Fast forward a few years and I would never have thought I would be able to say I had published two books, but there you go!
My second choice, A Christmas Carol, is a Christmas classic. Who doesn’t love a little Christmas ghost story? I am a big fan of Dickens in general, but I particularly love how the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future coach Ebenezer Scrooge into a softer existence. I think it does us all good now and again to take a little time to reflect on our actions and how what we do affects others. I have often wondered what I would be shown if the three ghosts came to visit me, which is an intriguing and yet also slightly unnerving idea!
So there you go, these are my favourite Christmas stories, perhaps a little traditional, but for that reason they will always have a special place in my memory and they are certainly ones I will be sharing with my daughter as she grows!
My Review of Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures, Tinsel Town
It’s Christmas Eve night and Zak and Jen are off on an adventure, but the town they find is empty.
It’s always a nervous moment when you’ve loved a book and a second comes along from the same author. Will you love it just as much? I don’t. I like it more!
Natalie Page seems to have settled into a glorious relationship with Zak and Jen so that there’s a natural feel to the story. As with the first book, The Petal Planet, Tinsel Town has a clever and organic rhyme scheme and some lovely new words like ‘befuddled’ for children to increase their vocabulary, but at the heart of the book is a sense of adventure and wonderment at Christmas time which makes it a glorious story to share with a child.
The importance of friends and family at Christmas is explored so that children can appreciate what they have, and the importance of that appreciation is stressed in the ending of the story.
A further element that I find so fabulous about the Zak and Jen books is the quality of the illustration. I can imagine discussing the images with children, looking for clues about Christmas, thinking about time, wondering what’s happening in the sky and generally enjoying the artwork. It complements the narrative perfectly.
If you haven’t discovered Zak and Jen with your younger relatives yet, I’d urge you to do so. I’m sharing my copy with my 5 year old great-nephew very soon and I know he’ll love it.
About Natalie Page
Natalie lives in the New Forest with her husband and daughter. She loves the freedom and creativity that comes with writing and enjoys nothing more than penning short stories and poems to entertain friends and family.
About Chris Rivers Nuttall
Chris Rivers Nuttall is a professional drummer for the rock band Heavens Basement. He started painting while travelling the world with the band, needing something to do on the long journeys. He now paints from his home studio in a variety of styles, which often have a surrealistic theme.
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