Review: Operation Nativity

Written by Jenny Pearson
Cover and inside illustrations by Katie Kear
Published by Usborne

What a majestical read!  Operation Nativity is the PERFECT Christmas adventure brimming with heart and humour, with family and friendship and with the magic of Christmas.  I am a huge fan of Jenny’s books and have devoured and loved them all, but I have to admit that this one is my favourite.  I’m already bursting with excitement to share it with my class in the run-up to Christmas.

Oscar’s family have been invited to spend Christmas with his paternal grandparents on their huge country estate in Hampshire, Barlington Hall.  They arrive late at night in their campervan and, whilst Oscar may be ready for sleep, his little sister, Molly, is now wide awake, singing ‘Little Donkey’ on repeat.  So both children hear the noise outside, see the bright flash of light and spot something flying off the roof and landing in the sheep field.  Thinking that Santa might have arrived early, Molly wants to investigate.  What they discover is not the man in a big red suit, but one with a halo and wings! 

The Archangel Gabriel’s Christmas announcement has gone spectacularly wrong:  he’s 2000 years ahead of time and in the village of Chipping Bottom rather than Bethlehem!  And a shepherd, a wise man, the actual Mary and Joseph, and possibly a donkey, have crash-landed with him.  If he doesn’t find them and take them back to Bethlehem, then Christmas will not exist – and neither will Oscar and Molly.

No big deal! After all, Gabriel can just use his powers to …  well, he could – if his powers were working.  Instead, he needs help from Oscar and Molly to find the others and so Operation Christmas is born, and the race to save Christmas commences …

And what an unforgettable, exciting race it is:  action-packed, hilarious, joyous and bursting with Christmas spirit!  There are so, so many hilarious encounters which made me laugh-out-loud, that gave me that much-needed feeling of cosiness inside and a few that brought tears.  Have you heard the one about the angel, the wiseman and the turkey in a bathroom? What about how baby Jesus might have had a racoon-pirate puppet as a gift rather than myrrh?  Sheer, sparkling, tears-running-down-your-face genius level perfection!   

As if a mission to make sure the first Christmas takes place isn’t enough, there’s also the performance of the year to take part in:  the Cuthbert-Anderson Family Nativity, run with military precision by Grandmother who is determined to outdo her nemesis, Mrs Tadworth.  This is a family tradition and this year’s performance is all the more poignant as Grandfather is unwell.  The relationship between Oscar’s paternal grandparents is really touching as their love for each other shines through. I adored the celebration of Christmas traditions such as carol singing, mince-pie making and the togetherness of family at this magical time, a time to believe in the impossible which is summed up perfectly by Molly:

There was a man hiding behind that talking sheep.

And that brings me to Molly and Oscar who I absolutely adored.  Molly is just gorgeous with a real innocence and honesty that leads to much hilarity as Oscar tries to stop her revealing their secret whilst her family (luckily) don’t believe her! She enjoys dressing in a wonderful range of costumes that causes much confusion for their visitors from the past.  Oscar is such a kind-hearted, sensitive, funny and observant boy who clearly loves his family and enjoys the excitement of the festive period even though he wasn’t quite expecting to be in charge of saving Christmas!  He has a wonderfully warm relationship with his grandfather who helps him to believe in himself.

The illustrations which are included in my proof copy are brilliantly lively, humorous and expressive and complement the story perfectly.  I can’t wait to get a final copy so that I can enjoy all of the wonderful illustrations.  I also just have to mention the gorgeously festive chapter headings which perfectly encapsulate the humour in the story.

Operation Nativity is a heart-warming, hilarious and endearing celebration of the magic of Christmas, an absolute must-buy Christmas read guaranteed to become a family tradition.

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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