Thank goodness for fantastic middle grade novels. December has been a little rough to say the least, so the escapism these books provide has been a welcome relief. ⠀
Krampus Confidential by Kyle Sullivan follows amateur sleuths Ruprecht (a Krampus) and Marley (a ghost, natch) as they take on a case brought to them by a particularly terrified elf. Hijinks ensue, and Ruprecht soon finds himself on the sights of both the Tinseltown police and the festive city’s surprisingly seedy underbelly. ⠀
This is a charming, clever story full to the brim with imaginative concepts and waggish, witty wordplay (the Christmas puns — they are copious). Artist Derek Sullivan supplies a lot of the atmosphere through his illustrations, which are liberally dispersed throughout the book. I really like his style, and brought to mind the work of Mary GrandPré. Thoroughly enjoyed this hazy fable. Had a tremendous amount of fun with it.⠀
Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus is another highly imaginative beast, following the magical misadventures of a dinosaur born in the North Pole and his budding friendship with a lonely boy. Like Confidential, it is full of fanciful notions and whimsical wordplay. It turned out to be a bit much for me, though. One of my notes fusses over the sheer amount of alliteration scattered throughout, which given my usual enthusiasm for assonance, says rather a lot. But the book does skew terribly young, so it’s also simply a matter of not connecting with the story enough. I bet this would make a fantastic read-aloud.⠀
I did really enjoy some of the characterization. William is a lovely protagonist, wistful and kind without coming off as mawkish. He is a wheelchair user, and Fletcher did an admirable job depicting that aspect in a mindful, unassuming sort of way. I also liked artist Shane Devries’ depiction of Santa here, jubilant and gloriously fat, sporting stylish shaved sides as well as a man bun adorned with pins made out of frost. It’s a totally extravagant look and I was very into it.⠀
Always got to appreciate the books that shine so bright they help guide you out of the doldrums.