Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in a comfy chair by a glowing fireplace, covered in a cozy blanket, and reading a Christmas story to a child perched lovingly on your lap. This is the story you want to be reading to them in that imagination.
The story begins on Christmas Eve when Molly confides in her pet mouse, Mr. Nibbles, about how the other kids are mean to her and don’t really see her for who she is.
Meanwhile, up near the North Pole, a little elf has some startling news for Santa; news that makes Santa leave all the presents back at the North Pole and instead, lug buckets of coal on his sleigh. Molly is eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival and staying up to welcome him with milk and cookies.
When Santa climbs in through the chimney and crashes into the hearth to find Molly waiting for him, he is not happy about her having stayed up. He does not know that Molly has been good all year. In fact, she is the only nice one on Santa’s List, something he had failed to notice while going over his list. When he does confirm this, he is impressed and asks Molly her gift of choice for Christmas. The rest of the story is about what Molly asks for and what happens after that.
The story of ‘The Girl Who Saved Christmas’ is about kindness. It is about forgiveness and more importantly, it is about simply being a good person by putting others before oneself. Although selflessness may not be something that can be done under all circumstances, it makes sense given the traditional celebration of the spirit of Christmas as being thoughtful of other people and promoting good cheer and happiness all around. To that end, the story just basks in goodness and perfection.
The rhythm and rhyming in the story are intuitive and give a musical quality to the narration. Illustrations complement the story and really draw you in. My toddler was mesmerized by the expressions of Molly and Santa and enjoyed looking at them as I read the story.
A few things that stood out to me were:
(a) The packaging of the book is brilliant. It is bound in bright red velvet with a snap button that you open to reveal the pages (the snap may make shelving the book vertically in a bookshelf somewhat awkward). There is a special first page with, ‘This Book Belongs To…’ space, a glossary of new words at the end of the book to help young readers build vocabulary, and a ‘Dear Santa’ letter where kids can write their wish list (If the lesson of the story is to not focus on gifts then it seems counterintuitive to then include space for a wish list but I still like the idea and kids can interpret the request list however they want)
(b) There are a couple references to Santa as Kris Kringle. I am not convinced that this was necessary. Perhaps, those who do call Santa by that name will be happy to see its inclusion.
(c) I love that Molly wears glasses. How often do you see main characters wearing glasses?
(d) The reference to the birth of Jesus Christ without actually mentioning the name was unexpected. I am a little ambivalent about this. On one hand, that is why we traditionally celebrate Christmas so including this important history is a good decision. On the other hand, including it but only mentioning it in somewhat ambivalent terms leaves it open ended for young kids to want to know more and ask questions that some parents may not be able to answer (specifically, religion related questions). Regardless, the adding of this bit to the story makes this more than just any other Christmas story for kids. It lends some gravitas – a strength unique to this story. Omitting it would not drastically alter the essence of the story either.
Overall, I liked the story and my son enjoyed it being read to him. The beautiful red velvet cover and gold ribbon bookmark make the book look exquisite and grand. This is a keepsake book for kids to read over and over again every Christmas. The illustrations are extremely attractive with the ability to draw you in. With the caveats presented above, I would recommend you buy or borrow this book from a library to read to your kids this Christmas. Merry Christmas!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author for a review. All views presented are my own.