Title: Father Christmas and Me
Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Fantasy, Christmas
Publisher: Allen and Unwin/Canongate
Published: October 2017
Synopsis: The third magical book in the festive series, which began with A Boy Called Christmas and continued with The Girl Who Saved Christmas, from number one bestselling author Matt Haig, and featuring enchanting illustrations from Chris Mould
When Amelia Wishart was rescued from a life of misery by Father Christmas she imagined life would be magical and fantastic. But it isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm. For one thing, elf school can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold. Amelia knows her adopted parents – the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas – care for her very much. Father Christmas is even writing a guidebook for her. But she sometimes wonders if there is more to life than eating gingerbread and decorating Christmas trees. When a very jealous Easter Bunny and his Rabbit Army launch an attack to stop Christmas, Amelia starts to realise the value of everything in Elfhelm, and joins with her new family and fellow elves to keep Christmas alive. . .
Amelia Wishart is living in Elfhelm with Father Christmas and Mary Christmas, but she is struggling to fit in. It’s not easy, being human in Elfhelm, despite people like Noosh, Father Christmas and others trying to help her. Amidst her struggles, Amelia discovers that Father Vodol, who has always hated Father Christmas, is spreading lies masquerading as truth, and setting elves against Father Christmas. Amelia sets out to prove Father Vodol wrong, with the help of the Truth Pixie, and discovers a long battle between elves and bunnies when she comes up against Easter Bunny – but can Amelia and the Truth Pixie find a way to resolve things and bring Christmas magic back?
The third book in the series sees all our favourite return, with a little twist at the end that is heart-warming and beautiful. This series has been magical at the end of a very tough year, where things are still bad across the world in varying degrees for so many people across the world. It is the kind of series that is comforting and peaceful, and that doesn’t shy away from bad things happening. Yet even though things don’t always go right for Amelia, there is always something good around the corner, and hope. Hope drives this series, as it drives Elfhelm and Christmas magic.
These stories bring a new magic to Christmas – the magic of hope. Amelia’s hope drive the story – it is her hope that brings Elfhelm to life, and it is her hope and her ingenuity that unites the elves against Father Vodol, who has simmered below the surface as a threat to all the hope Father Christmas seeks and loves.
From Amelia’s struggles at school and fitting into Elfhelm, to finding what she is passionate about, and building a friendship with the Truth Pixie, who has to tell the truth no matter what, and the power of friendship when it comes to forging your path and finding out what you are good at.
This story is focused on Amelia, and I love that it allowed her to go on a journey from not knowing what she is good at, to discovering a talent and skills she could use and take with her wherever she went. Her growth in this novel is powerful and evocative and shows that a child can flourish with love and belief. That a human – any human – can flourish and thrive when someone believes in them and loves them. There is so much to love about this story, and the way it pulls everything together. It keeps the spirit of Christmas alive, and pulls the reader along on a journey of hope and belief. There is power in hope, never forget it. Amelia never did!
Matt Haig has created a beautiful story, where lies are defeated by truth, where negativity is made into positivity, and where goodness is and inventiveness is what helps people thrive. With its lovely and uplifting ending, I think this series will become a Chrjstmas classic alongside A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker.