When Santa Fell to Earth

Common Sense Media says

Santa fights commercialization, kids help, ho hum.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ben repeatedly cheats on tests, with no guilt, author disapproval, or consequences -- except praise.

Violence & scariness

A bad Santa is turned into chocolate; giant nutcrackers attack and threaten.


None, but the author repeatedly says that the elves are swearing.

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

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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 -- have we heard this before? The only thing new that bestselling German author Cornelia 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this concept of Santa compares with the more traditional one. How is it similar? How does it differ? Which is more appealing or realistic?

Book details

Author:Cornelia Funke
Illustrator:Paul Howard
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:November 12, 2006
Number of pages:176
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:7
Read alone:8

This review of When Santa Fell to Earth was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 10 year old Written bybig boobs February 20, 2011
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bybrownie94 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

it was a really great book!

so... there's a santa who is running away from the santa police, (or whatever ya want to call it) and his reindeer got detached right in the middle of the part where people don't believe in santa(i wonder why that happened), and there all tryin' to fix it!!!!


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass