Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene
Macmillan Children’s Books. First published 2009
If you are looking for a saccharine-sweet Christmas story containing lots of peace and goodwill, this is definitely not the story for you.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a book about a beastly boy who gets his comeuppance for trying to trap Santa and thieve his haul of presents on Christmas Eve, this should be required reading.
We LOVE this book in our house.
Bradley Bartleby is the dastardly protagonist in this tale of greed and Poly Bernatene’s deliciously dark illustrations complement the story in Tim Burton-esque style.
The pictures possess a cinematic feel and it’s easy to imagine this book being made into a Christmas Eve animation.
Bradley, the book tells us, has been born bad.
Before baby Bradley even left the hospital…
He’d bitten the midwife on the bottom, stolen the doctor’s stethoscope and emptied his nappy into his grandmother’s handbag.
And the older Bradley got…
… the badder he became.
Rather than standing up to the naughty little tyke, Bradley’s wealthy parents pander to his every whim.
But Santa Claus is having none of it and only leaves Bradley a pair of socks each Christmas Eve.
Santa is such a kind-hearted old fellow that he believes no child, even one as bad as Bradley, should go without a Christmas present.
Sick of his measly socks, Bradley sets about booby-trapping his house.
“I’m going to catch the fat fool and take every present he’s got,” he vows, spending the next year setting dynamite, training tigers, fitting guillotines and cutting trapdoors into he floors.
Bradley is eventually hoist by his own petard and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving child. Battered and bruised, he becomes trapped in a cage where he discovers Santa has left him more than one present for a change.
They are fitting gifts for a character most readers will love to hate.
At 971 words, this book is the perfect length for 5-6 year-olds for whom single sittings of 500 word stories won’t suffice any more.
It’s fiendishly festive wicked fun and a refreshing change from the schmaltz so-often pedalled around the holiday season.