Review: Tinsel: The Girls Who Invented Christmas

If you thought you knew the origins of Santa Claus, think again!  Bursting with warmth, humour, friendship and adventure, Tinsel is an absolute joyous story, and one I’ll be reading aloud to my class to get us all in the mood for Christmas! 

Blanche Claus lives a lonely existence on the streets of London when one day she is given a magical red bauble by a kind old woman which allows her to see a magical new world that changes her life forever.  Filled with a sense of adventure and hope, she makes two new friends:  a horse called Rudy and an orphan called Rinki.  Blanche feels the magic of Christmas for the first time in her life, but then Rinki disappears from her life …

Five years later, and Blanche is making a living as a carter, transporting cargo from the ships arriving at the docks into town.  She is dressed as a boy as girls are not allowed to work as carters.  Her life changes for the second time when she is given a small iron box to deliver to the home of Captain Garland.  Imagine her surprise when she is reunited with Rinki who has been adopted by Captain Garland and dress-designer Teddy. 

“One day things will be different,” Rinki said.  “One day the world will imagine more of girls.  We’ll make sure of it.”

Blanche makes a wish to give every child in the world a present on Christmas Day to remind them that the world is magical, but how can she possibly make this wish come true?  Now, that would be telling, and you’ll have to read her incredible adventure to find out more …  preferably with a mince-pie or hot chocolate! 

What I can tell you is that this story completely entranced me, wrapping me in a cosy blanket of warmth and joy as I adventured with Blanche to a magical and snowy North Pole.  I met wonderful new friends (the many Carols and Eggnog the fir tree are joyous – and they gave me so many laughs!).  I discovered just how easily the truth of Santa’s origins have been misunderstood:  a mean-spirited villain with a penchant for controlling the news, tinsel-mail, and just a little completely unintentional elfish error …

I loved the heart-warming friendship between Blanche and Rinki.  Despite being separated, they never forget each other, and work together to fulfil their dreams.  I also loved Blanche’s friendship with Santa, who works on Captain Garland’s ship.  He is kind-hearted, sensitive and incredibly supportive of her.  Blanche is a gloriously feminist role model:  feisty, resilient, resourceful and quick-witted, determined to make her way in a world that does not give girls the equality they deserve. 

One day we’ll write the stories, and make the rules.

Tinsel is a perfect read to snuggle up with in the run-up to Christmas and I have no doubt will fill every reader with festive cheer:  heart-warming friendships, exciting adventure, wonderfully funny, and a brilliantly imagined origin story with such inventive twists on many Christmas traditions.  Bliss!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.  I have now bought the gorgeous hardback, and will be reading this story to my class.

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