Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, December 3, 2012

Plot Summary:
One stormy night, the little town of Misty Close received a surprise visitor: Niklas Goodfellow, a Santa by trade. Although Niklas didn't anticipate this crash landing , even though its not the first time, his reindeer, Twinklestar, has gone missing and his caravan has two broken wheels. Even though the three dozen elves, who sleep in the dresser, have done what they could to try and mend the damaged carriage, Niklas is stranded and has to figure out a way to get back in the air. The following day, Ben and Will come across the strange caravan and don't know what to think. Rather than leaving things alone, Ben is dared by the local smart aleck, Dean, to knock on the buggy door to see who lives in it. Despite the fact that Ben and company "ding-dong-ditched" Niklas, Ben couldn't get the vision of this man in a red suit with a small man in his jacket pocket After staking out the caravan, Ben got the surprise of his life: Nikalas invited the boy into the caravan for hot chocolate and gingerbread. After meeting the angels, Matilda and Emmanuel, and the elves, Ben learns about Niklas' troubles and the fact that a horrendous man named Gerold Geronimous Goblynch, the leader of the Christmas Council, has turned Christmas into a commercial catastrophe. According to Goblynch, all of the Santas are to abide by the following rules: ignore children's wishes (only listen to the adults and demand advance payment), no more sleds  (snowmobiles and reindeer salami), and no more elves. In other words, Christmas has changed from a season of joy, giving, and good will is to a greedy money making scheme. Luckily, when Ben meets Charlotte, and her dog, Mutt, not only has he found another ally to help Niklas save Christmas, but a new friend who will do whatever it takes to save Christmas.

Critical Evaluation:
I honestly could not put this book down because not only was it funny (I love the elves that scream "steaming reindeer poo"), the dynamic between the characters is absolutely charming. For example, the angels and the elves are two completely different creatures that have specific roles who need one another; the angels listen to the dreams and wishes of children and give them to Santa as well as providing the elves with gingerbread and hot chocolate; the Elves make all of the toys with their tiny hammers and give the angels are rather hard time with their tempers and lack of sophisticated language. The relationship between Nicklas and Ben is also very special because Niklas has lost his connection with children after the Santa takeover.Although Ben has one friend, Will, he feels lonely because he isn't quick witted, or much of a small talker, so he prefers to keep to himself. When he meets Charlotte, Ben is riddled with jealousy when Nikals takes an interest in her, but, just like him, she is also lonely as well. However, Charlotte has something that Ben has always wanted ( a dog) and because of Mutt, Charlotte and Ben were able to recover the lost reindeer while dodging mall security. The main message of this book is the fact that if we focus on receiving rather then giving, then true meaning of Christmas will be lost, which will bring an end to Santa himself. Ben and Charlotte gave Niklas the greatest gift they could give: believing in him and helping him bring an end to to Goblynch. In return, Niklas gave both of them a Christmas with snow and wonderful memories. This is a great story for any family to read and it definitely has the potential of becoming a tradition.

Information about the Author:
 Cornelia Funke was born in 1958 in Westphalia, German. According to Scholastic Publishers:

Following a post-graduate course in book illustration at the Hamburg State College of Design, Cornelia Funke worked as a designer and illustrator of children’s books. But disappointment in the way some of the stories were told, combined with her desire to draw fantastic creatures and magical worlds rather than the familiar situations of school and home, inspired her to write her own stories.
Cornelia Funke is a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkies, J.M. Barrie, and C.S. Lewis; she loves a good fantasy and she clearly has good taste. Before becoming an author, Funke worked as a social worker where her experience, during that time, provided her with ideas for future works:
When I finished the school I wanted to change the world and I though the best way would be to become a social worker. I worked for three years on an adventure playground in Hamburg and I’ll never forget the children I met there. Many of them came from very difficult backgrounds and dysfunctional families, but I respected them so much for their courage and their compassion for one another. I saw them care for their siblings, where their parents didn’t care at all. I saw them laugh although life didn’t give them much to laugh about. They taught me so much that I still owe them.

Tween Fantasy

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 4-7

Books Similar to When Santa Fell to Earth:

Awards & Recognition:

Positive Reviews from:
  • Booklist
  • Hornbook
  • Kirkus Review
  • Publishers Weekly
  • School Library Journal

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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