29 December 2015

Christine Kringle Saves the Day

Re-read: Christine Kringle, Lynn Brittney
This is a funny, funny novel with a (pun intended) novel take on Santa Claus.

How does Santa deliver all those gifts in one night? Because he isn't one gift giver, he's many! The American Santa Claus, or as he's known in this novel, Kris Kringle, is part of the Yule Dynasty, a huge family of gift givers, from Father Christmas in England to OzNick in Australia, to Babbo Natale (and La Befana) in Italy, to St. Nicholas in Holland, to the Three Wise Men in various countries, to Santa Kurohsu in Japan. Each year they have a big conference to discuss Christmas and other family concerns. This year the meeting is in Finland, where Kriss Kringle wishes to propose something never broached before: that a male gift-giver can hand his gift-giving tasks over to a female child. Although there are female gift-givers, St. Lucia, La Befana, Babushha, etc. among them, usually a female child marries and that husband becomes the new gift-giver. Kriss Kringle, however, wants his bright daughter Christine to inherit the job.

But barely can the subject be broached when an emergency occurs: a small town called Plinkbury in England is raising eyebrows and making the news by declaring Christmas illegal. And it's up to Christine and her friends Nick Christmas (son of the English Santa and allergic to gingerbread) and Little K (son of the Japanese Santa and creator of the wonderful new "Living Lights") to find out how this happened and try to stop it—with the help of Nick's ditzy but understanding and inspirational mother Zazu, and his uncle Egan, who are both "tall elves."

Brittney skewers several sacred cows on the way through the plot—the male dominated gift-givers of Christmas, Christmas collectors, stuffy parents who stifle their children's imaginations—and produces a very funny story in the process. There is a reliance on a few stereotypes on the way: Babbo Natale drives a Ferrari (a magic one, of course) and his compatriots have Mafia overtones, the son of France's Pere Noel is a fat kid who is constantly stuffing his face, the Japanese kid is the inventive genius, but these shortcomings pale against the hilarious story, which will keep you chuckling throughout. One of my favorite parts involves the Sisterhood, the female gift-givers who gang up upon their male counterparts in order for the kids to make their getaway (in the Ferrari, of course; reindeer and a sleigh would be too noticeable) to Plinkbury.

Recommended for all ages!

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