Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Last Santa

Rambling time!  Yep I have finally finished an actual holiday book and am ready to ramble...only four days before Christmas...oh well.  I found this book When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Paul Howard and was totally stoked to have my Christmas book all set.  It is a short book compared to the behemoths I have been reading and yet it still took me a while to get through (stupid Westworld taking up all my  Anyways it is done now and it is time to ramble.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Niklas Goodfellow and his caravan falls to Earth when his flighty reindeer Twinklestar gets frightened an breaks his harness.  He falls into a typical suburban town filled with your typical suburbanites.  Niklas and his two Christmas angels the motherly and bossy Matilda and shy and quiet Emmanuel put the caravan to rights while the tiny, swear prone elves get to work on repairs.  Ben is an athletic middle grade boy who while great at sports is not so good and speaking out loud, his thoughts never come out the way he intends them too.  He is dared by his nemesis Dean to knock on the mysterious caravans door and wait for an answer.  He does this and meets Niklas, a tired looking young man for a brief second.  During this brief interlude, Ben see's the unbelievable sight of a tiny man chillin in Niklas's pocket.  Feeling guilty Ben goes back to visit Niklas.  Ben is invited inside and is astonished to see many of the little men (elves) working on repairs, and the two angels baking gingerbread.  He is also astounded to find the interior of the caravan to be much larger then the visible exterior.  After some conversation, Ben learns that Niklas is one of many "Santa Claus's" that work Christmas.  He tells Ben that a nasty Santa by the name of Goblynch took over and made new rules for the rest of the Santa's to follow.  Now all presents are only made after a parental request and payment.  Goblynch has turned almost all the reindeer into salami and fired all the elves as he finds it cheaper to just buy the presents from Earth.  Niklas and six other Santa's refused to follow the new rules and continued the old ways.  This entailed gathering wishes from children directly from their dreams and sometimes surprising them with something completely different.  Unfortunately Goblynch set his evil nutcrackers after the rouge Santa's, catching all of them but Niklas.  Matilda tells Ben that if the nutcrackers catch Niklas, they will take his boots and if he looses his boots for more then 24 seconds then he will turn into chocolate...which is what happened to the other Santa's.  The next day, a shy quiet girl by the name of Charlotte also gets invited to visit Niklas.  She offers her dog to search for Twinklestar...who is invisible while on Earth.  Ben and Charlotte have a bit of an adventure, but eventually get the rouge reindeer back where he belongs.  Ben gets teased at school about his continual belief in Santa.  To this end he makes a bet with his nemesis on whether it will snow or not, with Ben winning if it snows in the next couple of days.  Ben and Charlotte ask Niklas if this is possible and he says it is, but it is risky.  Niklas agree's to the risk and tells the kids that they need to take a pipe/hose through the White Door to Yule Land and pipe snow to the snow machine.  The risky part is that the White Door is where the nutcrackers will come through if they get a whiff of Niklas.  The kids just manage to get enough snow and through the door before the nutcrackers come through, winning the bet with Dean and making the kiddo's happy.  Unfortunately their little escapade brought Niklas to the notice of Goblynch and his henchmen.  There is a pretty awesome little battle with the tide turning when shy Emmanuel and Twinklestar free the elves and save the day.  Goblynch is turned into chocolate and Niklas is free to be the best Santa he can be.  He personally brings Ben and his parents super awesome presents and promises to see him next year.  Niklas leaves with the hope he can recruit some new Santa's who will bring the true magic back to Christmas.

World Building - The world in this book was three fold, the mundane suburbia that could literally be anywhere, the cozy homey holiday magic of the caravan and the frosty, cold mystery of Yule Land.  The three very different area's all compared and contrasted with each other to create a perfect tiny little world in which to tell our story.  It is not sweeping, their is not a ton of back story, but it is the perfect setting for the narrative that the author was trying to tell.

Story - This was a great little Christmas story.  It has everything I love in a holiday tale, kids, magic, Santa, elves, angels, danger, greed, wishes and a very happy ending with the bad guys getting whats coming to them and the good guys triumphing over the darkness.  I liked how this story had many traditional elements, but the story itself was wholly original.  Good story.

Character - So much fun when it came to the characters.  Ever single being with a line had some sort of personality.  My favorites where the elves and angels, but seriously every single character was well done.  Nobody was perfect, nobody was stock, everybody had motivation and stayed true to themselves.  Pretty awesome if you ask me.  But seriously my favorites are the interactions between the bossy Matilda and the lazy swearing elves.

Editing - The book was readable, the flow was good, it was the perfect length...not much more to say.

Accidental Find - So possibly one of my favorite things about this book is how I found it.  I was perusing my local used bookstore in the middle of summer...possibly only so I could be somewhere with AC.  I was stumbling through the kids section when the authors name caught my eye.  Her Inkheart Trilogy is one of my favorites in the world so I am always looking for more by her.   I was kind of surprised to see it was a Christmas book 'cause I did not know that she had ever written one. I then had to make sure I actually remembered that I had it...which I yay me...and yay for random book finds of perfection.

A Little Dark - I love a Middle Grade book that does not shy away from realizing that most kids, especially by the time they hit those middle grades might actually have a clue to what goes on in the real world.  This book is one of those.  The bad guy is not nice and some of the scenes...especially the illustrations are down right scary.  That being said, everything has a reason for being in the book and the way the kids deal with the scary stuff is dealt with really well.  It is not your typical sugary Christmas story where the bad guy gets redeemed...he pretty much gets turned to chocolate...and I for one am very happy about that.

Multi Santa's - The story is not super detailed on whether there was an original Santa that hired help, or if there have always been multiple Santa's, but I think the concept works.  It gives so much plausible explanation to how Santa can be everywhere at once.  It also helps explain some of the physical and story differences that abound when the various stories are told.  I also liked how even the Santa's were not immune from human greed and how that affected Christmas as a whole.  An original concept that was very well executed.

Overall Impression - I enjoyed this little Christmas book.  It had everything I was looking for in a Christmas story and is one I would recommend for anybody old enough not to have nightmares from the demonic looking nutcrackers.  Overall I would give it 7 out of 10 polar glow worms and am now going to start looking at everybody who might possibly be a Santa.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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