Well this might be the answer, a little 5" square edition of Mrs Scrooge - A Christmas Tale by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by the inestimable Posy Simmonds and published by Picador. What's not to adore about this little book which having read several times over and registering something new each time, have now offered a permanent spot on the Christmas shelf.
I'm really looking forward to taking dovegreyreader scribbles along to the inaugural Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2010 and my thanks to Anna at Wenlock Books for the invitation. Carol Ann Duffy is one of the patrons and I'm very excited about hearing her speak and read there.
The World's Wife has been on my Essential Book shelf for a very long time.
A whole festival dedicated to poetry will be a first for me, I'll be reading a lot more poetry in preparation and you'll be hearing more about it here in the coming months and of course during the event in April.
In the words of Carol Ann Duffy,
"The Wenlock Poetry Festival will appeal to two audiences; both committed readers of contemporary poetry and the 'open-mindedly curious' - those willing to allow their natural reservations about poetry to be overcome."
But back to Mrs Scrooge, old and alone but for Catchit the cat, the last sitting tenants in a block of boarded-up flats,
and living a curiously twenty-first century life of protest about everything from the annual Christmas turkey massacre to 'No Runway 3', to saving the planet, and very unpopular she seems to be for it. Whilst self-centred Scrooge may have ignored the ills of the world, Mrs Scrooge is his complete antithesis, every injustice requires her input and it is encouragement and solace that the Ghosts of Past and Present deliver to her on Christmas Eve, whilst the Ghost of Christmas Future has something very uplifting to reveal.
Posy Simmonds' illustrations are quite perfect for their detail and emotion.
When I read this... the Ghost of Christmas Past telling Mrs Scrooge
'This is the past, it cannot come again...it is the gift your soul gives to your heart.'
and this when the Ghost of Christmas Present takes her to the Arctic Circle
'Tears like opals,
fell then froze,
on Mrs Scrooge's cheeks as she looked.
She stood upon a continent of ice
which sparkled between sea and sky,
endless and dazzling,
as though the world kept all its treasure there;
which balanced poetry and prayer.'
Well reading that I know why Carol Ann Duffy is the Poet Laureate and why I have loved this little book more than I can quite say and why you need to scroll down a bit further for gifts.