A white, elflike man named Otto searches for a mysterious thing called Christmas in this illustrated novel first published in Finland.
Otto finds a postcard on the beach with the words, “Wishing you light in the midst of winter, and a joy-filled Christmas season.” He doesn’t know what Christmas means, but he would dearly love to have more light in the winter, so he sets out to the north on a classic quest journey. The text uses complex sentence structures, rich vocabulary, and excellent dramatic pacing, with a different imaginative encounter in each chapter. Otto meets all sorts of creatures that offer help and advice: Kekri, a mossy monster who is king of the forest, furry creatures called mupples, talking trees, leaf fairies, and a giant called Booming Burl. Otto also meets real animals, including a helpful bear and a talkative reindeer. Finally he meets Father Yule, who answers Otto’s questions about Christmas and sends him home on the back of an owl. Father Yule tells Otto that Christmas means friends and happy memories and that “these things brighten the darkness of winter.” Full-color illustrations in a soft-focus, mysterious style are interspersed throughout the story, with lots of full-page illustrations as well as smaller ones. Every spread has some sort of illustration to help keep readers engaged.
An intriguing read-aloud for younger children and an entertaining choice for independent readers who like fantasy. (Fiction. 5-10)