A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the author has a very strange approach to Santa Claus, and younger children may find it disturbing to their belief system. Also, the book seems to condone cheating on school tests.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
While flying through the sky in his gypsy caravan during a thunderstorm a couple of weeks before Christmas, Niklas Goodfellow finds himself crashing to earth when his reindeer, Twinklestar, bolts in fear. The caravan ends up on the side of a suburban street, where Niklas and his accompanying angels and elves meet Ben (and later Charlotte).
Niklas explains that the North Pole has been taken over by Gerold Geronimus Goblynch, who is only interested in money and who has brought in modern technology, outsourced the toymaking, turned the Santas into chocolate and the reindeer into salami, employed giant nutcrackers as enforcers, and driven out the elves. Niklas himself is the last real Santa. Now it is, of course, up to the children to help him take Christmas back.
Is it any good?
Christmas taken over by greedy corporate interests is not a new theme; the only thing new that Funke brings to this hackneyed, trite tale is a complete lack of logic. Main character Ben is sort of bullied, of course -- but not really. His parents are rather unfeeling -- until they suddenly become warm and caring.
Bright children will have guessed the whole story by page 37, and the way it unfolds isn't particularly exciting. Funke's name has become a famous brand, and so this book will certainly sell. But it's a disappointment.