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Christmas is Pants!
Aliens Love Panta Claus - Claire Freedman
Member Name: CarolineR-D
Aliens Love Panta Claus - Claire Freedman
Advantages: Unusual, zany, fun
Disadvantages: None (unless you find the concept a bit too silly!)
It's perhaps not difficult to see why young children find pants so amusing. After all, pants cover the bottom and, let's face it, bottoms to your average 5 year old are the most hilarious thing ever. So a book that is a little bit naughty is always going to be a hit. Adults will enjoy reading this one to their children too because it offers a refreshing, zany take on the traditional 'night before Christmas' story. All the much-loved elements are there in the form of Santa, his reindeer and elves but in addition we have this delightful bunch of knicker-obsessed aliens who at first seem set to create havoc in Lapland but actually go on to save the day.
It's a story full of joy and warmth but lacking in sentimentality. Sometimes it's a relief to read stories that are a bit more tongue-in-cheek at this time of year, because stories that are too twee can become irritating. This adventure romps along at a brisk, exciting pace, capturing the frantic race against time to get the presents out on Christmas Eve. Can it be done? Rest assured that where there's a will (and lots of pants) there is a way.
The illustrations are bright and colourful. They are great pictures for helping to develop observational skills in young children. Amongst all the mayhem that is depicted, keen eyed children may be able to spot a cat and a dog wearing pants. If they are yet more eagle-eyed, they might also realise that even the robins in one picture are similarly attired. In the scene where the aliens' spaceship is taking off on its trip to Lapland, children may be able to see two startled rabbits running away. There is so much going on that you perhaps wouldn't notice on a first reading, so it's a book that you can come back to again and again over the festive season and it will keep surprising you. Even the aliens, which look very similar at first glance, have slightly different features when you look more closely.
I love books that are a bit off the wall as in my experience they encourage creative thinking more so than books that are totally predictable. My children always warmed to quirky characters. Why shouldn't you trim up your Christmas tree with brightly coloured pairs of pants as well as baubles? What's wrong with putting a pair of pants in with the toys when you are delivering presents for the boys and girls? It's the same kind of imaginative thinking outside the box that makes Dr Seuss stories so popular. What seems to be nutty behaviour on one level makes perfect sense when you look at things from the aliens' point of view. What could be more normal for them than to turn Christmas into a big celebration of their beloved pants? What's more, this story shows how what seems like madness actually can lead to some pretty inventive problem-solving. The message of the story? Let your imagination loose and who knows where it will take you or what it will achieve.
Children will have fun looking at all the different designs and styles of pants that are on display in this book. Which look the most Christmassy? Which look the warmest? Which look the most comfy? Which look the silliest? Which would you be most likely to buy for your gran. Or your Dad? Which would you buy for your teacher? There is plenty of scope for humorous discussion here. Perhaps children could even design some Christmassy pants of their own. If they are feeling really inventive, maybe they could dream up some of their own festive uses for pants. (Could you turn them into oven gloves for when you're taking the turkey out, perhaps? Best not to try that one at home though.)
The book is told in rhyme, which makes it excellent for joining in with. Children can fill in the last word of each verse, which is particularly enjoyable when the rhyme involves words such as 'snickers' and 'knickers'. It makes for an interactive reading experience and helps even the youngest children to become aware of the sounds and structures of words. Slightly older children who are reading the book for themselves will be able to observe that although some rhyming words have similar spellings, eg. 'frown' and 'down', other rhyming words have totally different spellings, such as 'sleigh' and 'hooray'. It helps them to appreciate the irregularities and the richness of the English language.
My favourite lines of all are:
"The aliens follow Santa
as he tiptoes to each bed,
They take down all the stockings
and tie knickers up instead."
This is accompanied by a great picture of an alien hanging a pair of pants over the bed as a child sleeps, none the wiser, but the child's teddy bear is wide awake and watches the scene with fascination! Another of my favourite pictures shows a snowman clad in two pairs of underpants - one pair on his lower regions and one on his head.
Although this is a riotously silly book in many ways, it does send out a positive Christmas message. The aliens are showing Christmas spirit by giving knickers away. Children can be encouraged to talk about the other types of kind gestures people like to make at this time of year. Will the aliens go back to their old knicker-stealing ways once the festive season is over? What other good deeds get done at Christmas and then forgotten about in the New Year?
This book is delightfully different and a superb story for the run-up to Christmas. (It perhaps isn't the best choice for a bedtime story when you want children to settle down because in my experience it tends to make children laugh so much that they become a bit hyper. It will certainly set the mood, however.) It's a great choice for youngsters who don't have the concentration to sit through a longer story, because it has just a small amount of text on each page and the rhyme means that it really doesn't take long to read.
If your child enjoys this book, you might even be tempted to leave a pair of pants in his/her stocking along with the toys to suggest that the aliens have dropped by with Santa. This book could start up a whole new Christmas tradition.
Aliens Love Panta Claus is currently available new from sellers at Amazon from £0.71. I recommend it enthusiastically. It's nice to bring out every year, even when your kids have (hopefully) grown out of this kind of humour. Whatever your age, this book will raise a smile.
Summary: A very amusing Christmas story