Ms. Sarah has written a review of a perfect holiday book that can be checked out here at the Library.
Kringle by Tony Abbott
With the Christmas season approaching, I thought I might like to start it by reading and reviewing a children’s book we have here at the library. I chose Kringle, a chapter book by Tony Abbott. Surprisingly it has only been checked out twice since it was added in 2018.
The back cover describes the book as an “epic story of a lone boy destined to become a legend throughout the ages,” so it’s quite clear that with the name Kringle, as in Kris Kringle, Abbott is going to try to explain how our Santa Claus came about. He succeeds and in a surprisingly believable and different way.
The setting is in northwest England in 410 AD when the Romans are leaving Hadrian’s Wall and England to defend the empire elsewhere, and goblins, who have been biding their time to take over the world, rush in to fill the void. In their way are Elves and a young orphaned boy named Kringle whose name comes from the sound of a bell. In the course of the book Kringle’s story unfolds slowly, and the Christmas connection doesn’t appear until page 185 when a priest named Alban relates the story of Jesus’ birth. After that the attributes we associate with Santa Claus begin to appear: yule, reindeer, robe and hat, sled, and staff. A classic story of good vs evil, the show down between the Elves and Goblins with our hero Kringle leading the battle comes when the Elves must meet Grunding, the Goblin war dragon.
Abbott describes post-Roman England well. Words, such as castrum (Latin for fort), Corbridge (a castrum along Hadrian’s Wall), and Brigo (a name reminiscent of a native tribe, the Brigantes, who lived in the north) are interspersed with Briton names, such as Halig, Merwen, and Elwyna, Elven names, such as Hrothr and Vindalf, and Goblin names (as ugly as you’d expect, a la Tolkein) such as Morgo and Snegg. Even the Saxons make an appearance as pirates, and runes play an important role in the story.
Abbott wrote a good story and used sources such as Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf, The Age of Bede, edited by J.F. Webb, Bede’s A History of the English Church and People, Eleanor Ducket’s The Wandering Saints of the Early Middle Ages, and Henry Mayr-Harting’s The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England among others.
If you or your child has enjoyed Tolkein, Abbott’s Kringle will be an enjoyable read.