As a child raised in India, my book diet included Enid Blyton and then Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. As my children are growing up I am discovering books that were never available to me - Roald Dahl. It is heartening to see how new authors are reaching out this generation in a contemporary style that was otherwise missing in ours.
Haig is a relatively new author whose books are always out in time for the Christmas season for obvious reasons. Considering my kids are growing up with the same Santa magic as other western kids, they were excited to learn about this Boy who was called Christmas and how was he connected to "their" Father Christmas.
Nicholas is a 11-year-old boy who lives with his father in Iceland. It is very cold there and they are quite poor. His father leaves him in the care of a wicked aunt promising to be back with money so that they can live better. However, Nicholas finds himself out in the cold, looking for his father. He has certain adventures which alter his mindset, transforms his life.
Haig uses informal language that connects with kids. The book jacket and the first chapter feel so personal as though someone is narrating a bedtime story to a child.
My 7-year-old was instantly hooked on to it, when I first read it out aloud to her.
The character of Nicholas - the poor, kind boy is the classic underdog that each child relates to. It is refreshing as word by word we get to know Nicholas more and learn about his family and circumstances he is in.
The concept of love, kindness and goodwill is interwoven quite well in the story.
Although the style is engaging, it tends to flag a bit. Towards the middle, we felt as though the story was dragging where Nicholas sets off to find his father. We read each chapter as a bedtime story. However, somewhere along the line, I couldn't help thinking that perhaps it was a bit out of league for my 7 year old despite our chats about it. But then there was a point when even I was getting bored. Some brisk editing would have helped, I felt.
Overall, it is beautiful book and later the pace picks up too. As we got to the end, my 7-year-old suddenly felt like she knew who Father Christmas was - when he was not sneaking presents under the tree.
A lovely story for kids between 8-12. We loved the book enough to make plans to read his next one soon.