My Christmas read this year was a great one! A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig is a Father Christmas origin story. Of the very best kind. This children’s / YA novel can absolutely be enjoyed by adults on their own who want a dose of festive spirit.
Or it’s also a great one to read aloud to younger children through festive bedtime as it has wonderful illustrations by Chris Mould to complement the story. If you partake in Jolabokaflod (the amazing Icelandic Christmas Eve book reading tradition – I am a convert) then A Boy Called Christmas is perfect for that too.
Opening sentence: You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
I believe in Father Christmas
Set in 18th century Finland, we meet Nikolas as a young boy. He lives with his father Joel, a woodcutter, in a one-room house in the woods. They don’t have much money, so when Joel is offered a lots of money to join an expedition north – all the way to Lapland – to try and prove that elves exist, he doesn’t turn it down.
In true Roald Dahl vibes, Nikolas’ wicked aunt is sent to care for him and he’s treated badly. This is very emotive in a way that only children being treated badly can be. You feel so much for Nikolas and want him to be happy. When his father doesn’t return after three months, Nikolas embarks on an adventure to find him.
Father Topo looked at Nikolas then at Little Noosh. Very quietly he said, ‘To see something, you have to believe in it. Really believe in it.‘
The power of magic
Along the way he makes friends with a reindeer and a variety of elves, discovers the detrimental effect of societies run by selfish dictators and learns some very wise life lessons that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Nikolas also encounters a truth pixie (who actually got her own book with a great message – The Truth Pixie also by Matt Haig) who is a great character and adds a little mischief to the tale. She is key to helping Nikolas see his true destiny.
‘Do you believe in magic, Miika?‘
‘I believe in cheese, if that counts,‘ said Miika.
I loved A Boy Called Christmas and my boys enjoyed it so much too. Matt Haig has crafted a perfectly-fitting Father Christmas origin story that above all, reminds us to never lose the joyful innocence of seeing the good in people and being kind. A true kind of magic. So wonderful. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!
- Illustrations by Chris Mould;
- Get your copy of A Boy Called Christmas here;
- Published by Canongate 2016;
- 266 pages;
- My rating: