I am part of a little online book group on Twitter called @ and this month’s book choice was A Boy Called Christmas written by Matt Haig and illustrated by Chris Mould and published by Canongate.
A Boy Called Christmas is a wonderful, traditional story telling the tale of Father Christmas and how he came about. Nikolas is our main character in the book, kind, gentle, caring and all the wonderful traits! His Father has set out on a mission to find the elf village in return for great reward. As they are a very poor family, his Father is determined to succeed at any cost. Poor Nikolas is left behind with his mean old aunt. Unable to bear her terrible treatment of him, Nikolas escapes with his trusty mouse friend Mika, and sets out to find his Father.
Firstly, my hat goes off to Canongate Books, Chris Mould and cover designer Rafaela Romaya for the beautiful production of this book. It has a luscious glittery cover, bright turquoise background colours and the stunning illustration of course. It feels really Christmassy. Perfectly executed, a special book to keep and treasure.
A Boy Called Christmas is a magical retelling of a tradition many of us have grown up with. Who is Father Christmas? Where did he come from? Why does he bring us presents each year on December 25th? This fantastic book will answer all of your questions with some epic storytelling, a hint of humour and a huge dollop of emotion and heart! This is a future classic, a story to be re-read every year, a book to become as much a tradition as the story it tells.
Matt Haig’s writing is, as his usual style, stunning, flowing and incredibly emotive. He could be sat in the room telling you the story himself, such is the personal nature of his writing. There are so many funny moments injected into A Boy Called Christmas, which lift the tale from it’s really quite tragic and emotional grounding. From Blitzen the reindeer with bags of attitude to the Truth Pixie who really just wants heads to explode and is quite open about this! Absolutely brilliant, and sure to have you chuckling throughout.
This Book Monster has long been a fan of Chris Mould’s illustrations, and his work for A Boy Called Christmas is my favourite yet. They are very far removed from our idea of what Father Christmas and his World look like, and how they are represented, and this is what makes the book even more special. Chris Mould has taken out the twee, and injected life and personality into those traditional characters we know and love so much. These illustrations are simply spectacular!
Here are just three of my particular favourite illustrations, but there’s so many more treats through the book!
The characters in the book are all so very different. And although most of them are not human, their behaviours really are. They have faults, make mistakes and have to learn just like life! It brings a sense of reality to a fantastical story and helps you identify with the characters on a personal level.
However, the overwhelming thing you will take from this book is the emotion. It’s poignant, filled with tragedy, kindness, love and profound moments that will make your heart ache. Matt Haig is the master at this. But from the sadness and heartbreak comes something quite special and magical … the impossible.
On Sunday December 20th, Kid Lit Readers chatted about the book on Twitter. You can read our thoughts on Storify right here:
Read about the wonderful Matt Haig here:
And read all about the talented Chris Mould here:
Excitingly, the sequel A Girl Called Christmas is already in progress, so keep your eyes peeled for that gem.
Thanks for reading this festive Book Monster review.