The Bookworm Sez: A clever plot to get kids in the holiday spirit

The Bookworm Sez: A clever plot to get kids in the holiday spirit

Sometimes, your parents have to leave.

Mostly, they just go to the grocery store or to work or to give somebody a ride. They’re gone for a few minutes or a few hours and whoop, they’re back. You barely ever know they’re gone. But sometimes, your parents leave for a longer time and in the new book “A Boy Called Christmas” by Matt Haig (c.2016, Knopf, $16.99, 240 pages), their absence changes everything.

Nickolas knew enough not to ask for gifts.

There wasn’t always money for food, let alone extras, which made his father feel bad and when Papa felt bad, so did Nikolas. Nikolas had a turnip doll his mother carved for him before she died, and the sleigh Papa made for him. That was enough, he supposed.

But it wasn’t enough for Papa. Not at all, so when a square-jawed hunter visited their cabin one cold summer day, Papa leaped at the offer the hunter made. It would require a two-month journey north in search of the legendary Elfhelm, and he’d need proof that elves really existed, but the money would buy a new cabin and all the toys a boy could want. Nikolas was not invited.

Three months later, after living with Aunt Carlotta and sleeping on the ground because she confiscated his mattress, Nikolas decided to run away. Papa was late returning, and Nikolas was afraid his father was lost. With his tiny pet mouse, Miika, in his pocket, Nikolas set out northward through the snow. Surely, Papa was up that way, past Lake Blitzen and Very Large Mountain .

The journey was a dangerous one. First, they encountered an angry, injured reindeer, and when Nikolas helped the animal, it began to follow him. The weather was brutally cold, and Nikolas’s shoes fell apart (luckily, he had a reindeer to ride). But he knew he was on the right track when he found his father’s cap — a red cap lined with white fur, and a pompom on the end.

But the right track turned out to be the wrong thing when elves captured Nikolas and put him in a chimney with a Truth Fairy and an ogre. Humans were bad, the elves said. They deserved to be left in a chimney.

Forever.

We all have to start somewhere, and for the middle-schooler who wants a fun read this holiday season, “A Boy Called Christmas” is as good a place as any.

With a twist of humor and a few unexpected additions, author Matt Haig keeps kids guessing throughout his novel. Nikolas’ adventures fit right in with the usual Santa legend — all the elements are there — and many of those plot bits are clever enough to sneak up on a kid. On the other hand, this book may be predictable, but with its light-as-a-snowflake holiday feel, children won’t mind.

If your child is in need of something to get into the holiday mood, then here’s a great early-Christmas gift. For 9-to-14-year-olds who love a good (and funny) fairy tale, “A Boy Called Christmas” is a book they’ll never leave.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in Life

Sierra Ferrell performs on the River Stage at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmonfest returns Aug. 2-4 for ‘musically infused family reunion’

The three-day event will feature art, festivities and an array of performers

Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music fest returns to RustyRavin

The annual nonprofit music festival is a fundraiser for Nuk’it’un, a transitional home for men

Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
King of the River food drive extended, Kenai takes lead

The winning city’s mayor will throw the opening pitch at a Peninsula Oilers game

File
Minister’s Message: The gift of lament

We don’t always know what to do in those difficult parts of life.

Chickpea lentil and spinach curry is served with rice and yogurt. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Finding comfort in memories

I believe that houses hold memories, and I hope the memory of our time there comforts it during its final, painful days.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Good old summertime

The lupines are crazy this year, as were the dandelions.

This advertisement for the Hilltop Bar and Café, the successor to the Circus Bar, appeared in 1962. The names under “Beer and Booze” refer to co-owners Swede Foss and Steve Henry King. (Advertisement contributed by Jim Taylor)
A violent season — Part 5

Bush did not deny killing Jack Griffiths in October 1961, but he claimed to have had no choice in order to protect himself.

tease
Getting creative with camping

Making healthy, diverse meals while outdoors takes some planning

Most Read