Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Have you ever thought about what happens to all the things you’ve lost? It could be a key, a pen, a book or maybe even a bad habit, a principle, or an emotion...happiness, maybe?
Well, J.K. Rowling has obviously thought about it A LOT, creating a whole world around these lost things...The Land of the Lost, where lost things live in the hope that their owners will remember and look for them, saving them from oblivion or an even more terrifying fate.
Jack’s stuffed pig DP has always been with him. He knows every one of Jacks secrets, has consoled him through his parents divorce, a change of home and school. As part of his new blended family, Jack has to adjust to not just a new ‘Dad’, but also a new ‘sister’ Holly, who in a fit of rage flings DP out of the car window.
Terribly upset at losing DP, Jack is far from consoled by Holly’s peace offering of a brand new stuffed pig. But then this new ‘Christmas Pig’, a.k.a. CP, offers to help him find DP in the ‘Land of the Lost’, since it's Christmas eve, a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things come to life, even toys!
The two set of on an adventure filled quest during which they meet a host of interesting characters who either hound or befriend them, as they journey through the different sections of the Land of the Lost...with names like Mislaid, Bother-its-gone, the Wastes of the Unlamented and other imaginative toponymy, a journey which is is dangerous and exhilarating.
Rowling subtly juxtapositions the loss of a parent as a result of divorce and the adjustment to new blended family members, with the loss of a dear toy, one that has always been with Jack, with an unfamiliar new one. Yet it is the new toy who leads Jack on the quest for the one he has lost, always having his back, ever present, ever supportive, putting Jacks needs first.
“‘Losing is part of living’ whispered DP into Jacks Ear, his snout snuffling against Jack’s hair.’But some of us live even though we are lost. That’s what love does. I’ll always be here, on this Island of the Beloved, and when you hug the Christmas Pig you’ll be hugging me, too, because we’re twins, Jack, and everything he feels, I feel too.’”
I didn’t really think I would like this book, yet I could not put it down once I went past what I thought was a bit of a ho-hum start. Rowling has the knack of wooing the grown-ups with her writing, and The Christmas Pig makes for a wonderful grown-up read too.
Her clever writing, using fantasy and allegory, touches upon social, political and environmental issues.
Her well crafted characters kept me delighted and marvelling at both her writing and the depth and thought behind each ‘lost thing’. Makes one think of just how much we lose, way beyond the concrete ‘things’.
A wonderful story of love, loss, loyalty, courage, selflessness and sacrifice, yet also one of loneliness, evil, power and sadness. Through it all what shines through is HOPE.
I did however find the end a bit rushed. Jack’s episode with ‘the’ bad guy, has a rather quick resolution. I picked up traces of the Phantom Tollbooth and Toy Story and I couldn’t help but think that while it will make for a wonderful read aloud to children 7-8 plus, it is the older ones who will marvel at the intelligence and thought behind Rowling's prose.
The black and white illustrations by Jim Field at the start of each chapter are beautifully atmospheric, setting the mood for every chapter, as Pig and DP journey the Land of the lost.
I do so love the end paper details and the gorgeous rich gold foil on the hard cover.
A perfect read-aloud for the month of December...an early Christmas gift for the entire family.
I picked up my copy from Funky Rainbow, The Travelling Children's Bookshop.
I can see this as an animated film by next Christmas and so look forward to it, securin having enjoyed the book first.