Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas tells the story of Nikolas, the boy that will become Father Christmas. It is the imagined account of why he is who he is. It is superbly illustrated by Chris Mould, no doubt enhancing the reading experience for the very small. That said, A Boy Called Christmas is a perfect Christmas story fit for children big and small.

I absolutely loved this book. Nikolas follows his father, who has gone to find the elf kingdom, and this journey transforms him – makes him the figure we all know and love. Like any story of merit, there are obstacles to overcome and people to win over. It is a feel-good story, with dark edges. The best of kinds of story.

Apart from a heart-warming story, there are notions/concepts in it that deeply appeal to me. Nikolas is encouraged by his mouse friend, Miika, who simply believes in cheese, even though it is nowhere around him. In believing, it is enough to ultimately conjure it. Of course, this becomes the premise of Father Christmas himself. I roared with laughter at the thought that IMPOSSIBLE was an old Elf swear word – it is merely something that is possible that you don’t yet understand. In this, there is potential in everything. I loved also that in the world of the elves, every elf has a calling, and when that is realised, the age becomes fixed. The young Nikolas is frustrated that he seems to be taking such a long time to find his calling (the elves seem permanently youthful), but clearly there are more things for Father Christmas to assimilate.

For anyone wanting a tonic, a literary pick-me-up, this is the perfect story, at any time of the year. It is a book of and for life, and not just for Christmas.

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