This is the story of a potential disaster when it is announced that the Town Council of Plinkbury, a town in England has banned the celebration of Christmas – no Christmas tree in the town square, no Christmas lights in the shops and no carol singers in the streets. (As an aside I’m reading The Verneys, set in the seventeenth century English Civil War period when Christmas celebrations really were banned).
Although the myth is that there is one Santa who flies all round the world delivering presents this book reveals that there are many Santas, known by different names in all the different countries, world-wide. They are gathered together at the Annual Yule Conference when news of the ban hits the headlines. They are busy debating a number of controversial issues ‘“ the introduction of some extraordinary Christmas Lights, fuelled by flying reindeer droppings; choosing an International Gift-Giving date; and the most controversial of all – that a female can inherit the role of Gift-Bringer if there is no male child to carry on the family line. This is the suggestion from Kriss Kringle from the US as he has no son and wants his daughter Christine to take over his ‘job’ when the time comes. However, the news from England throws everything into turmoil.
Christine and her friends, Young Nick from England (son of Santa Claus) and Little K, the son of Santa Kuroshsu) from Japan (who invented the Christmas lights), fly to England in Babbo Natale’s (the Italian Santa) red Ferrari (the latest in sleighs) hoping to re-instate Christmas and also to show that females are capable of being Santas. Helped by Nick’s beautiful mum Zazu (a tall elf) and her charming brother Egan they descend upon Plinkbury to carry out their plans to foil the Town Council’s ban. I really liked Zazu, the inspiration behind Barbie dolls, with her jewellery, beautiful clothes and most of all her impossibly high heels.
This story, aimed I think at young adults, kept me fascinated right to the end. There’s plenty of magic and I was quite taken with the idea of a car boot that’s enormous inside, a bit like Dr Who’s Tardis and a magic cleaning fluid that really does remove all stains, even squashed blueberries, not to mention chocolate liqueurs filled with real Christmas spirit. The story also brings out various issues, that I found interesting, not only the prejudice against women entering into what is considered to be a male preserve, and the distinction between the elves and the Santas, but also the way commercialism has become a dominant theme of Christmas, and the position of people of other faiths at Christmas time.
I particularly liked Christine’s speech on the meaning of Christmas and give just a short extract:
Christmas unites everyone, of every creed, race and colour, in a winter celebration of love, peace, light and joy. Over the centuries, the day of Christ’s birth has become a universal symbol of hope, fellowship and reunion.