THE CHRISTMAS TOMTEN by Viktor Rydberg

THE CHRISTMAS TOMTEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This 19th-century story from Sweden projects a hard-to-swallow Victorian sensibility, but it's vitalized by the elements of Swedish Christmas lore and by the pictures by Harald Wilberg (illustrator of Astrid Lindgren's Tomten books), who gives fairytale fancies a sturdy flesh-and-blood reality. The story concerns poor, adopted Vigg, who is invited out on Christmas Eve to help the Christmas Tomten deliver presents. The gifts get grander as the Tomten's sleigh goes on to grander homes, until at last the prince in his palace receives a whole model kingdom. After that, Vigg is disappointed when all he gets is a pair of hand-knit wool socks--but he repents when he and the Tomten visit the hall of the Mountain King and find the Princess ailing because of the evil in the world. When the Tomten reports on the day's score of good and evil, Vigg's ungrateful thought (represented by a bloated toad) just about destroys the Princess. However, the Tomten's report on the generosity of Vip's elderly adoptive mother makes the Princess well. Rydberg's moral may elicit different reactions, including cries of outraged justice, from today's audience. Still, how many Christmas stories give children anything to react to?

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan