Book Advent – 14th December The Best of Times by Michael Morpurgo ilustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

A pocket sized book with a fairy tale feel and illustrations that are fitting and appealing this would make a lovely Christmas gift for a newly confident reader or a poignant read aloud for slightly younger children.


When Prince Frederico and the Princess Serafina marry, there are huge celebrations and joy rings out across the land. But as time passes the Princess grows sad but is not able to explain to the Prince why. Her unhappiness spreads to all at the royal court and a shadow hangs over the palace and indeed over the country.  The Prince continues to try to raise her spirits without success and the Princess starts to fade away.  As Christmas approaches, Prince Frederico must find a way to warm his new bride’s aching heart. He sets off across the land and comes across a group of travellers who offer him kindness, advice and hope.

This is a relatively short read but a thoughtful one and the manner in which the Princess’s despair is overcome is touching. Very young children may not understand all the implications but the theme of kindness and joy conquering unhappiness may prompt questions and thought. I think the illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark fit the tone of the story very well and they convey the Prince and Princess’s emotions beautifully.

Perhaps one of Michael Morpurgo’s lesser known books this a sweet story for Christmas time and would be a lovely present for competent readers of about 7+.


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