Agenda wends its way throughout, but this Yuletide yarn often rises into the sparkling snowdrifts of fantasy.

FATHER CHRISTMAS AND ME

From the Boy Called Christmas series , Vol. 3

It turns out that living with Father Christmas isn’t all cloudberry pie and jolly elves.

After escaping from the workhouse in The Girl Who Saved Christmas (2017), Amelia has joined Father and Mother Christmas in Elfhelm, the land powered by hope. Trouble is, she doesn’t quite fit in. As a human, she’s too large for the elf furniture, and she is terrible at school. For example, she just can’t fathom that “in elf mathematics the best answer isn’t the right one, it’s the most interesting” one. In this trilogy closer, trouble really starts when Amelia accidentally crashes a favored sleigh. The traitorous Father Vodol leaps at the opportunity to sabotage Amelia and the entirety of Christmas by setting up a newspaper called the Daily Truth in order to spread lies. At Vodol’s side are the Easter Bunny and his army of soldier rabbits. The Easter Bunny holds a festering grudge, his slogan being, “It’s time to make Easter great again.” When most of the elf population believes the fake news, Father Christmas, Amelia, and Mother Christmas must make manifest that amazing things can happen in an instant. This adventure is accompanied by cozily wonky illustrations, but militarized rabbits and the obvious political mirroring seem counterintuitive to the very heart of holiday mythology. All the human and humanlike characters are white.

Agenda wends its way throughout, but this Yuletide yarn often rises into the sparkling snowdrifts of fantasy. (Fantasy. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78689-068-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Canongate

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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