Christmas review: Christmas with Rita and Whatsit

Today’s festive book review is about Christmas with Rita and Whatsit, by Jean-Phillipe Arrou-Vignod and illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

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What it’s about: Young  Rita is quite a bossy and easily frustrated girl, and her dog, Whatsit, is rather eccentric. Therefore their Christmas preparations are fraught with disagreements about how best to do things. Firstly they need to write their letters to Father Christmas, and Whatsit doesn’t want much, apart from a bone, a policeman’s outfit (don’t ask), dog biscuits, a PE kit, and ‘a hundred other things’. Next is the tree, which Whatsit reckons looks best with items from a dustbin – an empty carton here, a fish skeleton there. Rita is furious: ‘stop that and help me or you’ll be for it!’ Whatsit does oblige but then has his own secret tree, garlanded with sausages and biscuits and ham. The rest of the Christmas preparations follow in a similar vein until the two retire to bed. However, Whatsit cannot sleep from excitement and starts barking when he hears noises downstairs. Will he have accidentally scared Santa away?

Holly’s review: I don’t like this book! It doesn’t make sense to me! It’s just lots of comments and sentences but there is no proper storyline to it which makes it confusing. No, sorry! I don’t like it!

Sam’s review: Wow! What a reaction from Holly. I was so surprised. I was laughing all the way through at the dry humour in this book, supported by the simple but very effective pencil drawings and sparse use of colour.  I understand what Holly means about there not being an obvious story. There is a plot line – the two are preparing for Christmas and the climax comes when there is a danger that Whatsit has wrecked all their plans with his noisy barking. But it’s a rather loose approach which, while it works for me as a series of humorous incidents, obviously did not impress Holly. I still would recommend it to children from toddlers up as we all have different senses of humour haven’t we? I would be interested to hear if anyone else has read this and had a similar reaction either to me or to Holly.


Has a book ever divided you and child/parent? Do share!





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