|A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig is the perfect bedtime story to read to your children in the month of December on the run-up to Christmas. It is beautifully illustrated by Chris Mould.
In A Boy Called Christmas, Nikolas and Joel (his father, the Wood Cutter) are poor. Nikolas has no brothers or sisters and Miika (a mouse) is his only friend. Throughout his life, he has only received two christmas presents: a sleigh and a turnip doll.
That is until Anders – the Hunter comes to recruit Joel on a mission for King Frederick. If Anders, Joel and some other men can prove the existence of Elves to the King, he will reward them handsomely.
This is Joel’s chance to lift Nikolas and himself out of poverty. Joel explains to Nikolas that he has accepted this mission, meaning he will be away for Christmas. But that when he returns, Nikolas and he will be rich. That Nikolas will
no longer need to look in the window of the toyshop window wistfully, but will be able to have all the toys he wants. While Joel is away, Nikolas is to be looked after by his horrible Aunt Carlotta.
Joel leaves and Nikolas waits. Nikolas waits for his father to return for a long time. When Joel still hasn’t returned Nikolas begins to worry. Eventually, Nikolas sets out with Miika to The Far North to find his father. The journey is long and treacherous.
When Nikolas arrives at The Elf Village, accompanied by Father Topo and Little Noosh, it is not at all what he imagined. Little Kip has been kidnapped by Anders, Joel and the other men, who have escaped and are heading to King Frederick. The Welcome Tower has been turned into a Prison. Nikolas is imprisoned with a naughty Truth Pixie that likes to watch people’s heads explode and unpleasant Sebastian the Troll.
Nikolas uses magic and the help of flying reindeer Blitzen to escape the prison. He sets off to find his father, Anders and the other men to put things right. The ending is well thought out, fabulous and explains how after many years Nikolas finds his purpose: being Father Christmas.
Young children will love everything about A Boy Called Christmas, including Nikolas and the other characters- all of which have depth, the pacing and the magical plot. It is a captivating read that can be enjoyed by both younger children and grown-ups together.
The only criticism I have about A Boy Called Christmas is that the release date was too close to Christmas. Haig can’t be blamed for this, but the Publisher can. Still, now that A Boy Called Christmas has been released, it can be enjoyed by the many for years and years to come.
I’ll be giving my copy of A Boy Called Christmas to my older brother, so that he can read it to my nephew on the run-up to next Christmas.