By Awnali Mills
I love reading Christmas books—at least once during the holiday season. I particularly love Mary Kay Andrew’s Blue Christmas. I tend to like the slightly non-traditional, but was burned by R.L. Stine’s Young Scrooge this year. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt helped some, but it wasn’t particularly Christmas-y. Then, I (rather reluctantly) picked up A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig. Jackpot!
Nikolas and his woodcutter father, Joel, are barely eking out an existence in Finland’s forests. So when a hunter approaches Joel and asks him to go along on a mission for the king to prove the existence of fabled Elfhelm, he can’t turn it down. They will receive enough money to set them up for life if they can accomplish the task. Joel leaves Nikolas with his nasty aunt, and takes off.
Eventually, Nikolas can’t take his aunt’s evil treatment anymore, and follows his father. He hooks up with a reindeer and a mouse, and has some adventures along the way. But will he find his father, and can they prove that elves exist?
Obviously, this is an origin tale of Santa Claus. There isn’t anything too unexpected here, so I was anticipating being less than impressed. However, this book literally made me laugh from the epigraph on through. Not that I laughed the whole time, but the occasional turn of phrase, side note, or situation would make me snort with laughter. I got plenty of weird looks, but I had a great time reading it. The illustrations by Chris Mould are excellent and add to the fun. You’ll find the normal exhortations about the importance of belief and hope, but they don’t make the story an eye-roller. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to recommend it to anyone in 4th or 5th grade who enjoys a funny read.