Amelia Wishart was the first child ever to receive a Christmas present. It was her Christmas spirit that gave Santa the extra boost of magic he needed to make his first trip around the world. But now Amelia is in trouble.
When her mother falls ill, she is sent to the workhouse to toil under cruel Mr. Creeper. For a whole year, Amelia scrubs the floors and eats watery gruel, without a whiff of kindness to keep her going. It's not long before her hope begins to drain away.
Meanwhile, up at the North Pole, magic levels dip dangerously low as Christmas approaches, and Santa knows that something is gravely wrong. With the help of his trusty reindeer, a curious cat, and Charles Dickens, he sets out to find Amelia, the only girl who might be able to save Christmas. But first Amelia must learn to believe again. . . .
"Matt Haig has an empathy for the human condition, the light and the dark of it, and he uses the full palette to build his excellent stories." –Neil Gaiman, Newbery-winning author of The Graveyard Book
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About the Author
Chris Mould began studying art at the age of sixteen and has gone on to become an acclaimed illustrator of children’s books, including Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas. He lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire. Visit him at chrismould.blogspot.com and follow @chrismouldink on Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
Do you know how magic works?
The kind of magic that gets reindeer to fly in the sky? The kind that helps Father Christmas travel around the world in a single night? The kind that can stop time and make dreams come true?
Without hope, there would be no magic.
It isn’t Father Christmas or Blitzen or any of the other reindeer that make magic happen on the night before Christmas.
It’s every child who wants and wishes for it to happen. If no one wished for magic to happen, there would be no magic. And because we know Father Christmas comes every year, we know now that magicat least some kind of magicis real.
But this wasn’t always the case. There was once a time before stockings and Christmas mornings spent excitedly ripping off wrapping paper. It was quite a miserable time, when very few human children had any reason to believe in magic at all.
And so, the very first night that Father Christmas ever decided to give human children a reason to be happy and to believe in magic, he had a lot of work to do.
The toys were in his sack, the sleigh and reindeer were ready, but as he flew out of Elfhelm, he knew there wasn’t enough magic in the air. He traveled through the northern lights, but they were hardly glowing at all. And the reason for the low magic levels was that there wasn’t much hoping going on. After all, how does a child hope for magic to happen if they’ve never seen it?
So that very first visit from Father Christmas nearly didn’t come. And that it did happen is thanks to one thing. A single human child. A girl, in London, who believed in magic totally. Who hoped and hoped for a miracle every single day. She was the child who believed in Father Christmas before anyone else. And she was the one who helped Father Christmas, just as his reindeer were starting to struggle, because the amount she hoped, while she was lying in bed that Christmas Eve, added light to the sky. It gave Father Christmas a purpose. A direction. And he followed a thin trace of light all the way to her home, at 99 Haberdashery Road, in London.
And once that was done, once he had placed a full stocking of toys at the foot of her bug-ridden bed, the hope grew. Magic was there, in the world, and it spread among the dreams of all children. But Father Christmas couldn’t fool himself. Without that one child, that eight-year-old girl called Amelia Wishart, hoping so hard for magic to be real, Christmas would never have happened. Yes, it took elves and reindeer and the workshop and all of that, but she was the one who saved it. The dream of magic.
She was the first child.
The girl who saved Christmas.
And Father Christmas would never forget it. . . .