When I heard that my favourite musician from my favourite band, Tom Fletcher from McFly, was writing his first novel I was so excited. When I found out it was a Christmas novel I was super excited. When it was revealed that the main character would be a wheelchair user, I was over the moon and desperate to read it! I grabbed a copy as soon as it was released and I was not disappointed!
William Trundle is a 10-year-old wheelchair user who is obsessed with dinosaurs. He lives happily with his dad Bob, until one day Brenda Payne, the meanest girl in the whole school (possibly the world!) joins his class and turns William’s life upside down. For the first time ever, William feels very different from his friends and he becomes miserable.
Little does he know that far away in the North Pole is a lonely dinosaur called the Christmasaurus who also feels very different. On Christmas Eve, the two cross paths in the most unexpected way, leading them to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and build a friendship that will change them both forever.
The Christmasaurus is a joy to read. Tom talks to the reader directly, and uses lots of fun description and silly Roald Dahl inspired language like ‘kickerbashed and knockerboshed.’ In fact, Santa’s elves singing in rhyme reminded me of the Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! There are loads of laugh-out-loud moments to amuse small kids and big kids alike.
The enchanting illustrations and brilliant writing make it so easy to get lost in the story. I felt like I was actually eating Cosmos Converting Candy Canes and drinking North Star-bucks in the North Pole Snow Ranch!
Not only is The Christmasaurus well-written, it also captures what it’s like to be a wheelchair user perfectly. William is an ordinary boy doing normal stuff like going to school and playing with friends. On the other hand, he has experiences unique to being a wheelchair user, like needing help to pick up a dropped pencil or running over people’s feet on a semi-regular basis! I could relate to him so much; he reminded me of me when I was at school!
I was most impressed by how the book addresses the way that wheelchair users can be treated negatively because of their disability, and the feelings this can evoke like sadness, loneliness and guilt. This is so important, because there aren’t many wheelchair users in books, TV and films, so if you don’t have any other friends who are wheelchair users, it can seem like you are the only person to feel this way. The Christmasaurus reminds wheelchair users that they are not alone and emphasises that their lives and stories are just as important as those of non-disabled people.
As well as being full of fun and magic, The Christmasaurus is action-packed. I was thrilled to see so much danger and suspense throughout the book. These moments kept me hooked, but they also show that wheelchair users can be action heroes too. I wish I could be as clever and as daring as William in scary situations; he is amazing!
One thing I would like to see in Tom’s future novels (of which I hope there will be many) is more women and girl main characters. There is only one in The Christmasaurus and although girls will definitely still enjoy this book, they deserve stories with more of their own heroes and role models too!
Overall, The Christmasaurus is an outstanding novel with a key message about the importance of friendship and family, celebrating difference and believing in yourself. It is an incredible step forward in the representation of wheelchair users in children’s books, educating a new generation about disability. I hope that many more authors will follow Tom’s lead.
The Christmasaurus is a wonderfully warm festive treat for readers young and not so young. Whoever you are, I highly recommend that you ask Santa to pop a copy in your stocking this Christmas Eve!