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Hometown World have created a Christmas story, tailored appropriately for several counties/citied in the UK, including Cambridge (and, as it happens, one on Cambridgeshire).

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These came into the bookshop last Christmas. We hadn’t order many and they sold out within a couple of days. We couldn’t get them re-ordered in time. There was one copy in display in the window, which was clearly FOR DISPLAY ONLY (and would mean I could buy it on Christmas Eve). But then on Christmas Eve, a customer – male, in his twenties, a look of shopping panic in his eyes – dashed in asking for it. With great reluctance I handed it over. With a smile of course. Always the professional, me.

This year we ordered plenty and I snatched up the first copy as soon as they arrived.

So why do I like it?

The story is simple but engaging. Pleasingly, it is not saccharine sweet, nor does it have a badly rhyming text (which would have been grating – the prose works just fine). It is funny too. Santa navigates his way around the world using a Santa-nav (which has a bossy female voice and is of no help at all when the fog blocks out the stars Santa is supposed to use to find Cambridge).

The main reason I got it, of course, is that it is deeply exciting to read about somewhere you live. And when I first saw it I was impressed about the amount of detail in there about Cambridge – there was much more than I expected. This also includes a double spread featuring lots of key landmarks of the city.

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If Cambridge (or any of the other places Hometown World covers) is special to you, then this is a great Christmas book to get. And obviously, it would make a perfect gift for anyone else who feels the same. I’m not sure if the customer last year fully appreciated what he’d bought, but I’m sure the recipient did.

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