When his young son asked what Father Christmas was like as a boy Matt Haig responded by writing his latest children’s book – A Boy Called Christmas. The recommended age range runs from seven-year olds to pre-teen but as a self confessed ‘Big Kid’ and lover of the festive season I picked up a copy for myself as a Christmas treat – and I am very happy I did!
‘To see something, you have to believe in it. Really believe it’
This is the story of the origins of Father Christmas. Long before he became the jolly, bearded Santa Claus we are all familiar with, he was Nikolas, a skinny eleven-year-old boy. The son of a woodcutter, life isn’t always easy for Nikolas and his father Joel. Living in minimal accommodation Nikolas does not have many luxuries, with only a turnip doll given to him by his mother and a mouse named Miika providing his company. Then, following a visit from a hunter, his father sets off in search of fortune, leaving Nikolas in the care of his unpleasant Aunt Carlotta…
‘Everything about her, even her voice seemed covered in frost’
In Aunt Carlotta, Haig has created an excellent villain. Nikolas’ mean spirited Aunt is very strict – and has a dislike of children. At this stage it all looks gloomy for Nikolas. Separated from his parents and forced to live with Aunt Carlotta, Nikolas is saddened. However, with the help of a reindeer, Blitzen, and with Miika tucked in his pocket Nikolas embarks on an adventure across the land to find his father and a cast of exciting and magical characters along the way. It is here we see how Nikolas is a boy with a big heart, a boy who can see the good in the world, despite how bleak and scary it may seem.
‘There were many worse ways to live as an eleven-year-old boy then surrounded by magic and elves and reindeer’
As he sets off on a magical journey of discovery Nikolas comes across elves, pixies, trolls and reindeer and finds himself in some interesting situations! This exciting array of characters both good and bad results in a fun, magical story that has a fairytale feel. It’s a story that contains all the classic elements of Father Christmas that we are familiar with and combines it with a sprinkling of imagination/pixie dust/troll brains. The book is illustrated by Chris Mould and the drawings themselves are magical. I thought that the illustrations were excellent and complemented the story well, bringing these wonderful characters to life. They truly captured the charm and humour in the book.
‘People you love make the world real and solid’
A Boy Called Christmas is a beautifully written story that carries important messages about love, courage, determination and helping others. It is a fresh Christmas story with a classic message that is sure to enchant readers young and old. A wonderful festive treat!