The Very Wobbly Christmas, the latest book from Sarah Naish, is a (hilariously?) accurate portrayal of the struggles of an adoptive family at Christmas. All the different worries and consequent behaviours of the children are covered with an appropriately light touch, reassuring the children reading/listening that the adults in their life know what is going on for them.
I really appreciated the tone of the book – no judgement of the children for their feelings or behaviours, and a large dose of wry humour from Mum as she remembers ‘The Scooter Incident’ from last Christmas and prepares the children for this year’s festivities.
The book covers school plays, relatives who don’t understand the children’s behaviours, the overwhelm of so many presents, disappearing Advent calendar chocolates, fears about Father Christmas coming into the family home, and general Christmas-related anxieties and heightened emotions.
Mum is a therapeutic rockstar and frankly has earned a Boxing Day lie-in by the end of the book.
Dad mysteriously disappears for the duration of the conversation, which may well be accurate in some families but possibly sends a message that this is all Mum’s department. Hmmm. I can see my husband not appreciating being relegated in this way.
Some of Mum’s turns of phrase were strikingly similar to my own; others I have now filed for future use! My favourite was when she was talking about an Advent calendar with chocolates in the pockets:
‘I will be putting in 5 sweets at breakfast time for you all to have one each before school. There won’t be any in any of the other days just in case people want to do extra sharing with themselves.’ (My italics.)
Another nice touch was the inclusion of photos of the children on which the characters are based, along with their ‘pre-incident’ scooters. I liked being able to show Joanna and Charlotte that they really existed as they enjoy identifying with the characters.
In conversation with Joanna (age 10)
I asked Joanna to share her thoughts on the book. Have a listen or read the transcript below.
Joanna: I liked The Very Wobbly Christmas because I think it would be good for our family to try some of the things, and because it sounds helpful for other people. I like it also because it’s got good things in it that will help me and my family.
Hannah: Which character did you think you were most like?
Joanna: The character I was most like was William Wobbly.
Hannah: Why is that?
Joanna: Um, [mumbles] …scared.
Hannah: Because he’s a bit scared?
Joanna: Yeah. And I’m sometimes scared before Christmas.
Hannah: Okay, anything else? What did you think about the mum in the story?
Joanna: The mum was very calm, a bit like [our] mummy, and was understanding what the children needed so she can make it how they wanted and make sure there’s not too many changes.
Hannah: Good. What about the other children?
Joanna: The other children were a bit wobbly and a bit spiky and a bit urrrrrrrghh about Christmas.
Hannah: Right. What do you think about the way they did Christmas in the end? W
Joanna: That the children all felt a bit more safe and they weren’t as wobbly.
Hannah: Mm hmm. Why was that?
Joanna: Because the mum had understood what they need and made sure it stayed that way.
Hannah: So it was all nice and calm and normal.
Hannah: And not too much different from their normal routine.
Hannah: Okay, thank you!