The Girl Who Saved Christmas is the second book in Matt Haig’s Christmas trilogy and the second book out of the three I will be reviewing this holiday season. The story follows Amelia Wishart, the first child ever to receive a Christmas gift. Although the gifts were delivered by Father Christmas (and they still are), it couldn’t have been possible without her, the little girl whose life and heart is weighed down by the burdens of life and who is trying to fill her shoes as a chimney sweep in Victorian London. Tragedy strikes her in the most unexpected ways and she is sent to a workhouse, where, separated from her companion, Captain Soot, she loses all hope, which happens just when the trolls are trying to cancel Christmas.
It is a fast-paced and quite charming tale that carries the reader through the adventures of its protagonists, however, with its own twists and turns. My inner child was so happy to read the book as it is simultaneously a glimpse into poverty and a journey from which one learns that hope is both the source and the fuel of magic. With just a little touch of reality – grief-stricken Amelia’s life and the pain inflicted by the workhouse owner and the staff -, Matt Haig makes sure that his readers are aware that it’s not a fairy-tale they’re reading, but the true story of Father Christmas, Amelia and Captain Soot. Another quite meaningful aspects is how the author brings into discussion historical facts, and mainly the idea of a workhouse in 19th century’s Britain. It’s quite important teaching children about the historically hard times, but they can be quite demoralizing. However, through the heroic acts of the protagonists and their bravery the novel introduces children into these periods of time in such a manner that the harsh truth might come of a little less disheartening than in history books. And since we’re on the topic of history, Charles Dickens is a character in the novel, which makes it even more captivating.
Sparkled with good humour and lots of hope, and despite being a tiny bit tragic, The Girl Who Saved Christmas is utterly charming. The story is brought to life not only through Matt Haig’s writing techniques, but through Chris Mould’s illustrations as well. If you are looking for a children’s book to place in a stocking this Christmas take into consideration this one, as well as the other books in the series. It is indeed a festive, timeless and meaningful read meant to be included into your holiday tradition.
Title: The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Author: Matt Haig
Illustrations: Chris Mould
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers