When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Paul Howard
Chicken House, 2006. 978-0439782043
Synopsis: Scared by a storm, Twinklestar, the least reliable reindeer, bolts–causing Santa and his sleigh to crash-land. And though Santa has dropped into a friendly neighborhood, he’s not safe: Jeremiah Goblynch, the ruthless new leader of the Council of Yuleland, is determind to put an end to children’s wishes and turn the holiday season into his own personal moneymaking scheme. As the last REAL St. Nick around, only Santa stands between Goblynch and his grinchlike plan. With the help and hope of kids Charlotte and Ben, Santa must face Goblynch and his Nutcracker goons to save Christmas! – from Amazon.com
Why I picked it up: I loved Funke’s Inkheart trilogy and I was excited to see that she had a Christmas story that had been published in America.
Why I finished it: I knew this was not going to be the average Christmas story, and I like Funke’s take on the Santa Claus legend. It reminded me a lot of The Santa Clause in that the Santa character has to overcome the idea that Christmas has changed, that he needs to find a way to make people believe again. There’s also the story of the children who are helping Santa after his caravan fell in the street: they both have to learn to trust each other and to have courage to face their fears. The caravan reminds me of the TARDIS in that it seems to have much more room on the inside, but in this case, it’s because of special Santa magic that allows the caravan to house the workshop. What I liked about the story is that the characters evolve so that by the end of the book, they have transformed into much stronger, more confident individuals than they were when the reader is first introduced. Ben is somewhat quiet and Charlotte is ‘mousy’, but both children seem to gain a sense of certainty by being with Niklas. Howard’s illustrations add another dimension to the story, helping the reader visualize the characters and the setting in much greater detail. The black-and-white drawings remind me of charcoal art, the way the lines are blurred to give the pictures an element of the fantastic. Overall, it’s a charming holiday story the encourages the reader to discover the real meaning behind Christmas and to remember the magic of this wonderful time of year.
Other related materials: When Santa Fell to Earth (movie); The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke; Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke; Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke; Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby; The Box of Delights by John Masefield, illustrated by Judith Masefield; The Naughty List by Michael Fry and Bradley Jackson; Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien; Winterfrost by Michelle Houts; Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Mary GranPré; The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson; The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements; The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carson