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The Christmas Pig Review: J.K. Rowling at her best

October 4, 2021.

The Christmas Pig
J.K. Rowling
Hachette Kids – October 12th, 2021
4.5 / 5 ⭐

J.K. Rowling’s first children’s novel since Harry Potter1 is published next week, and it is the most enjoyable book by the author in the last decade. It is a feel-good book, full of surprises, which will delight adults and children alike, not only for the original story, but also for the imaginative scenery, characters and objects that interact with the main characters.

The Christmas Pig tells the story of Jack and the love he feels for Dur Pig, a stuffed toy pig who has been with him since he was a toddler. After losing him on Christmas Eve, Jack will embark on a great adventure to save Dur Pig with the help of The Christmas Pig, a brand new replacement for Dur Pig.

Together they will explore a new world and go, deeper and deeper, into the Land of the Lost, to save Dur Pig from a dark fate and get him back to the Land of Living. It is in this magical journey that takes place almost throughout the whole book where Jack and The Christmas Pig will encounter Things and visit different towns. All of the inhabitants of these towns have something in common: they are material and abstract things that people lose in the real world. But the journey is not easy, since the Land of the Lost has Loss Adjustors, a group of Things that maintain order and are now after Jack, a human who is not supposed to be there.

J.K. Rowling shows again, with this book, why she is considered one of the greatest storytellers of her time. She excels again in world building, and younger and older readers will be surprised, chapter after chapter, by the original ideas that she introduces in this world that Jack and his friend visit. The world Rowling creates is not complex but it does not underestimate children: it is a world with clear logistics that the protagonists must follow, carefully crafted to serve the story and not its readers. Older readers will find these world rules with a mix of humour and moral sense. If one dares to compare The Christmas Pig to Rowling’s “novels for adults” (Strike novels, for example), the use of simple writing stands out as a way to attract younger readers, but this is not to the detriment of the story.

The beginning of the book may seem slow until the adventure starts, but it is a needed pace to make a proper character introduction and to lay the foundations that will be used later. After the first quarter of the book, the pace increases when the main characters go into a non-stop journey, and the rhythm of the book remains like that until the very end. The occasional slower scenes that may appear later are needed to balance the story, and are fairly enjoyable as well, because the writer has already won the reader’s trust at that point.

Young kids will be able to read the book on their own, since Rowling’s writing is aimed at this specific audience this time. But for those who prefer a bedtime reading with their parents, it will bring up interesting conversation topics since the book touches on some real world concepts explained by these lost Things themselves (including how they were lost or forgotten by their owners). Moreover, those long time readers of J.K. Rowling’s works will find familiar passages and themes that they may want to connect to the Harry Potter books. It is hard to tell if those references are there on purpose, but there may be some gratification in thinking that Rowling must have noticed and enjoyed them privately while she was writing them.

The different places these protagonists visit are a thrill for imagination. It is difficult to think that animation studios would not fight to adapt the story for the big screen, where The Christmas Pig would fit perfectly due to its nature.

Parents around the world may have a difficult time every night, once a chapter is finished and their children must go to sleep. The Christmas Pig will keep readers turning pages with a great and imaginative story, filled with cliffhangers at the end of most chapters that will leave kids asking for more. If some reviewers said that The Ickabog lacked Harry Potter’s magic, they can rest assured that The Christmas Pig has all the magic that J.K. Rowling can provide, and that’s more than enough.

The Christmas Pig is published by Hachette Kids.

1: According to the official announcement for The Christmas Pig, The Ickabog is not considered to be a novel, but a fairy tale.