Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent

The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent

Ulf Stark
Illustrator:  Eva Eriksson 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Floris Books, 2014   ISBN: 978-1782501367

It is the first of December and on this day, like every day, Grump the tomte leaves his home in the dog kennel and slips into the empty house, which has been unoccupied for fifty years. Grump makes sure everything is “as it should be” and winds the big wall clock. Then he reluctantly rescues a bumblebee that is tangled up in a spider’s bed. Grumbling all the while (house tomtes are always grumpy) Grump takes the bumblebee home with him.

The tomte likes things to be quiet and ordered and so the bee’s snoring makes him grumpier than ever. On the third day of December a gale arrives and so Grump cannot get “a moment’s peace.” When the wind carries off his mittens (which were drying on the washing line), his tomte hat, and a sign that reads TOMTE CO (formerly TOMTE COTTAGE) that was attached to the gate, Grump really loses his temper. He decides that he will not see or talk to anyone, and he will not celebrate Christmas.

Some distance away a rabbit family is gathered in a burrow under a big oak tree. Two of the rabbit children go outside to “wait for snow.” They chase leaves and then they find the tomte’s hat, his mittens, and the sign, which they take back to the burrow.  The rabbits have no idea what the hat and mittens are and they cannot read the sign. In the end a pair of jackdaws read the sign for them and they tell the rabbits that a tomte “comes at Christmas.” The birds don’t know what Christmas is but they think that it “sounds exciting.”

A squirrel tells the rabbits that Christmas is a time when “you hang pretty things on a tree. And you eat and dance. And sing. And give presents.” Christmas begins when the Yule Tomte arrives. The rabbits decide that the words on the sign that they found must mean TOMTE COMING.

Soon all the animals in the forest know that the tomte is coming and they begin to prepare for his arrival. The problem is that they cannot be sure when he will turn up. The other problem is that the tomte has no idea that he is expected, and would he even come if he knew?

This wonderful picture book is arranged in the form of twenty-five short chapters, one chapter for each day of advent. With lovely artwork and a heartwarming story, this beautifully presented picture book would make a wonderful gift for the holiday season.