Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig illustrated by Chris Mould

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Nikolas lives with his father. They are poor.  His father works hard and earns little, so he and his friends set off to find the elf village.  There will be a huge reward and they will all be set up for life if they can prove it exists. Meanwhile Aunt Carlotta moves in and makes Nikolas miserable. He leaves in search of his father.


He meets and befriends a flying reindeer, Blitzen, on the way. He finds the elf village but all is not well.  His father and the other men have kidnapped Little Kip. The elves are so annoyed by what the humans have done that they will no longer accept outsiders. Nicolas is imprisoned.


Some magic has happened, however, and Nikolas has enough hope inside him that he is able to float up the chimney and out of the prison.  He rescues Little Kip and brings him back to the village. His father helps him.  However, his father is too heavy for the sleigh and plunges to the ground.  We assume he dies.


Nikolas becomes popular in the village.  Elves, and apparently adopted humans, remain the age they are when they find out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Nikolas is sixty-two, already called Father Christmas, has a rounded belly, a beard and a distinctive laugh, when he decides he wants to bring joy to good boys and girls every Christmas. The Elves and a group of flying reindeer help him with this.


This story contains some familiar tropes, some quirky passages and the sadness that Nikolas loses his father.


As well as being suitable for the fluent reader, this story may also appeal to younger children if an adult reads it out to them.


The novel is 266 pages long. It has blocked text and uses an adult font. Chris Mould’s line drawing enlivens the text. There are pages from the Daily Snow, the Elves’ favourite newspaper. At the end of the book are some puzzles.   

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