The Christmasaurus

the-christmasaurus

Hello everyone! Before I begin this very special review, I’d like to thank all of you for following me this year and wish you all a fantastic holiday (no matter what you believe or how you spend it). In honour of the occasion, I’ve decided to take a look at a story befitting the season.

The Christmasaurus was written by Tom Fletcher and first published in 2016. It tells the story of a young boy who has a magical Christmas Eve adventure with an unusual festive creature. Although the novel does hint at the possibility of a sequel, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

William Trundle has not had the easiest of childhoods. He lost both his mother and the use of his legs in a tragic accident and has recently become the target of Brenda Payne, the meanest bully in school. His father sees that he’s miserable and encourages him to write a letter to Santa, asking for the one thing that he really wants. For William, the answer is simple. The one thing that he’s always wanted is a dinosaur.

Meanwhile, at the North Pole, Santa’s elves have come across something remarkable. Buried beneath the ice is a huge egg. When they thaw it out, it hatches into the very last dinosaur. Naming it the Christmasaurus, they allow the magical creature to live with them and experience their Christmassy way of life. However, the dinosaur is still lonely. It feels out of place and dreams of flying like one of Santa’s reindeer, yet all its attempts to do so fail.

When Santa receives William’s letter, he sets out making the boy the perfect present – a stuffed version of the Christmasaurus. When the Christmasaurus sees it, he immediately falls in love. It’s the closest thing to another dinosaur he’s ever seen and he doesn’t want it to go to some spoiled little boy. Reluctant to part with his new friend, he sneaks into Santa’s sleigh and unwittingly finds himself left behind in William’s living room. Naturally, William is overjoyed to meet the Christmasaurus but he soon realises that the dinosaur was not left for him. Yet how will they ever get him back home to the North Pole?

The Christmasaurus is aimed at readers who are a little younger than my usual target demographic, but I think it’s safe to say that it will be readily enjoyed by any reader who loves Christmas. It’s a heart-warming children’s story that bound to be a hit with readers of all ages. Fletcher’s narrative voice is engaging and full of charm, enthusiastically making up new words and rhymes in a way that makes the reader feel as though he’s speaking directly to them. The novel also includes beautiful illustrations that capture the individuality of the characters. It’s a great book to read out loud with a young reader so you can both enjoy it at the same time.

The novel itself brims with imagination. The book boasts that the reader should forget everything they know about Christmas. While that’s not strictly true, as the story still contains the key elements of Santa Claus, flying reindeer and elves, it did provide a vibrantly original take on life at the North Pole. Did you know that elves speak only in rhyme and live of a hearty diet of crumpets? Or that reindeer are responsible for the Northern Lights? I certainly didn’t before I read this novel. My favourite thing of all was the discovery of where presents come from. Not spoiling it for you here, but it is wonderfully whimsical.

Beneath the wit (and added dinosaurs), the story is standard festive fare. Its focus is on a little boy from a poor family who is feeling depressed due to incessant bullying at school. It’s only here that I felt that the story fell down a little. William’s bullying is severe and completely mean spirited. Where are the adults in this world? I understand that William does not speak with his father about it but don’t the teachers notice the kids chanting names at him? The constant picking on a sweet little boy because of his deceased mother and wheelchair is utterly heart breaking and made some of the early chapters a little hard to read.

Yet the bullying aspect of the plot just kind of fades away after a while. While this was a bit of a relief, it did feel a bit weak how William suddenly befriends Brenda in a single conversation towards the novel’s halfway point. Ultimately, Brenda didn’t get much development. While we do get a reason for her nasty attitude, after she admits this she undergoes a character U-Turn and never faces comeuppance for her awful behaviour. She ultimately disappears for a large chunk of the novel, replaced by the even more villainous Hunter, until her sudden return in the story’s climax.

Yet the rest of the characters in the story are certainly memorable. Despite being unable to speak, the Christmasaurus is incredibly expressive and is destined to become a beloved childhood favourite. His search to belong is very sweet and I enjoyed the scene with him at the museum, where he finally got to learn what dinosaurs were like and how different their prehistoric world was to his cushy life at the North Pole.

The human characters in the story shone equally as brightly. William’s Dad truly steals the show, with his lifelong love of Christmas (including the small Christmas tree he keeps in his wardrobe so he can secretly celebrate all year round), and the Hunter provides a truly vile bad guy who, while a little shallow, is very easy to hate. The way that he ultimately got what was coming to him really made me smile.

Yet it’s William that is truly the star of the show, and the primary reason that I would recommend this story. He’s so endearing and, even with his disability, he doesn’t allow anything to get in his way. There aren’t enough disabled protagonists in children’s literature and it was great how Fletcher portrayed him as being active and independent as any other ten-year-old. The author credits Whizz-Kids for helping to ensure that he treated the subject matter sensitively and accurately. If you haven’t heard of this charity before, please take the time to look them up. They do fantastic work to help ensure that disabled children have access to all the mobility equipment they require.

Anyhow, as you may be able to tell, I really loved this book. It was funny, charming and memorable. William is a great protagonist and I’m sure that the Christmasaurus is going to become a classic Christmas character. If you’re a dinosaur lover or fan of all things festive, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at this novel. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Wintereenmas or whatever winter holidays you celebrate. I hope that you have a great, safe time and wish you all the best for 2017.

The Christmasaurus can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book from Amazon.co.uk

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Sobeks 2016 – Part 4 | Arkham Reviews

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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