The Girl Who Saved Christmas

illus. by Chris Mould. 320p. Knopf. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524700447.
Gr 4–6—Eight-year-old Amelia toils as a destitute chimney sweep in 1840's London, desperately hoping for a miracle that can heal her sick mother and save her family. It turns out that magic and hope alone are what makes Christmas happen, and Amelia's unconditional belief empowers Father Christmas enough to perform his first Christmas. Two years later, Father Christmas's kingdom has been destroyed by giant trolls and the orphaned Amelia is a prisoner in a horrible workhouse. She no longer believes in magic—without her, Father Christmas cannot continue, so he loads his sleigh and heads off to London to find her. The story is fast-paced and playful, peopled with interesting characters and unique details such as the "Barometer of Hope" and the invention of the "Tell-Elf-Home," but what sets this story apart are the genuine emotions exhibited by all—loss, fear, sadness, and, ultimately, love.
VERDICT An inventive Christmas-themed origin tale that is a pure holiday treat.

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