A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Mention of an achipiquon, a Native American flute, and that Poppy's grandfather was Lanape, an Indigenous people of the Northeast United States and Canada (although there's no information given about that tribal group).
Christmas has gotten too commercial. Don't forget the true spirit of Christmas. It's not the number of gifts you get that matters, but that Santa brings you something special.
Positive Role Models
Poppy's grandmother is warm and supportive, Poppy is curious, and Donner, Santa's magical reindeer, helps Kristtörn.
A main character, tan-skinned Poppy, who encounters the Christmas Witch, is part of a Native American family. She plays an "achipiquon" (a Native American flute) that her Lanape grandfather gave her. There's no explanation, but the Lenape are an Indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands of United States and Canada. Santa and Kristtörn are White. Background characters have diverse skin tones.
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Violence & Scariness
The Christmas Witch conjures a black fog that covers earth and sky, threatens to ruin Christmas, and puts Poppy's father and Santa in danger. The Christmas Witch saves Santa after he tumbles out of his sleigh by reaching out to grab him before he falls from the sky.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Return of the Christmas Witch, by Aubrey Plaza and Dan Murphy, picks up centuries after The Legend of the Christmas Witch ended -- in our modern time. Now the newly revived Kristtörn is still angry at her brother, Kris Kringle/Santa Claus, still wants to find him and urge him to return to his leading role in Christmas (which he had abandoned) and restore the traditions of the holiday. The only scary thing is when Kristtörn conjures up a dense black fog that causes Santa to slip out of his sleigh, but she rescues him with a helping hand before he can fall to earth.
Is It Any Good?
This lengthy story is stuffed with many threads and themes that may be challenging for kids to follow. First there's The Return of the Christmas Witch, who wakes up from where she was frozen in the ice but has lost her magic powers, which she'll gain back after her mother witch sends her messages in her dreams. She's still out for revenge on her brother, Santa, for abandoning her as a child, but she also wants him to save Christmas, which has become too commercial, thanks to the Kringle Corporation, started by North Pole elves after Santa gave up on Christmas. Meanwhile, Poppy, a tween whose dad works for Kringle delivering Christmas gifts, is spying on the Christmas Witch who's hiding out nearby in a forest along Delaware Bay, where she and her Native American family live. (We only know she's Native American by one reference to her Lanape grandfather and the designs on some textiles in her home.) The Christmas Witch breaks out Santa's magical reindeer Donner when she finds him caged in a traveling Christmas festival. And rides him up to a sky showdown with Santa and ends up rescuing him after the black smoke and wind she conjured up causes him to fall out of his sleigh.
It's really a lot to keep track of. But the story resolves in a happy, positive way, and overall it's less dark than Book 1, with appealing art and positive messages about forgiveness and resisting the commercialism of Christmas.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.