The Church Mice At Christmas by Graham Oakley…
…I can’t remember who or when I was given this book, but I do remember that it was a Christmas present (I think I would have been somewhere between 8 and 10 years old when it was given to me). It has really left its mark on me for some reason and is without a doubt my favourite book as a child. I was born on 27th December and my birthday has always been mixed up with everything to do with Christmas (I don’t mean that in a bad way… that’s just the way it was) and Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. I love the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, the snow, and shopping in the dark, cold evenings when all the Christmas lights are on… it’s just magical (this is one thing I really, REALLY miss now that I’m living in Australia!). The Church Mice At Christmas has all that: the dark cold nights covered with stars, the snow, streets lit with Christmas lights, and people rushing in and out of shops to do last minute Christmas shopping. But one image in the book really stuck with me, and that’s a Father Christmas coming through the church door:
I always felt that if there ever really was a Father Christmas then that’s just how he would look like.
A few years ago I realised there was a whole series of books written about my favourite little Church Mice so I have been collecting them ever since. I now own 8 out of the 12 books written.
As per the title of the books the main characters of this series are mice that live in a church in a small English town. The other main protagonist, as can been seen in the artwork on the front covers, is Sampson the church cat who doesn’t eat or chase mice, and always takes part in the church mice’s little adventures.
The books are written and illustrated by the English author Graham Oakley. I love both the narrative and the artwork. The stories are imaginative and well written, and the artwork is just so full of detail and often humorous (I love the facial expressions and the clothing people wear).
The Church Mouse (first published 1972)
The Church Cat Abroad (first published 1973)
The Church Mice & The Moon (first published 1974)
The Church Mice Adrift (first published 1976)
The Church Mice At Bay (first published 1978)
The Church Mice At Christmas (first published 1980)
The Church Mice In Action (first published 1982)
The Church Mice and the Ring (first published 1992)
Another four books have been published in this series which I don’t have (and am obviously trying to get my hands on!) :
- The Church Mice Spread Their Wings (first published 1975)
- The Diary of a Church Mouse (first published 1986)
- Humphrey Hits the Jackpot (first published 1998)
- The Church Mice Take a Break (first published 2000)