Selah’s Take on A Very Ninja Christmas
Back today with another holiday comic title for ya! Today I’ll be looking at A Very Ninja Christmas (Amelia Rules!). As a heads up, like others I’ve highlighted, this is part of a series, but the author does do a good job of working exposition into the story, as well as providing a bonus story in the back as to things that have gone on before. I never felt like I was floundering with the plot, so I was able to focus on the volume, itself, which is definitely a great skill to have and helpful for holiday volumes like this.
So Amelia’s parents are divorced and she’s living with her mom and her aunt (who is a former rock star). She and her friends form up their own pretend superhero squad, and run around having adventures. This book is devoted to them trying to figure out if Santa is real, with some subplots highlighting Amelia’s feelings toward her family situation (missing how things used to be yet also guilting her parents into trying to get her more stuff for Christmas), and the reality that not everyone is as fortunate as she is.
Things that this book does fairly well: It handles the Santa argument pretty nicely. Granted, I would definitely only give this to kids who had been told ‘the news,’ but it could be a nice transition book to encourage them to in turn help with Christmas for others. It does’t straight out say the truth about Santa, but if it’s a delicate issue, I’d put this one off until a kid is at the right point. I really like how one of the discussions that leads to the ‘Is there a Santa’ debate between Amelia and her friends is that her friend Pajamaman is a really good kid, but his family happens to be poor so he’s never gotten anything from Santa. It’s also nice to see Amelia’s mom sit her down and explain that while her father may be able to give her everything on her list, she’s not able to, and Amelia needs to reign herself in and appreciate what she has. There’s a great interaction between Amelia and her aunt about if Santa exists and why some people get some stuff and others don’t.
The problem is that these incidents are really short to make way for all the spectacle and hoopla in the title (which seems a little ironic for a story trying to highlight the emotional elements of the season). This is where I’m never sure if there was a limited amount of pages for the story or if it’s my age or what’s going on. I enjoyed it, but I also felt like the bit of Amelia and her friends outing a mall Santa was a little eh and the characters were a little hard to get behind because most of what we see of them is back-and-forth repartee. While I like the idea of the bonus comic at the end to help ground readers in the world, I also would’ve liked there to be more time taken with the actual main story. The realist in me also gets the need for simplicity, but I feel like an opportunity was wasted a little bit to really explore some issues with more nuance. It’s like the idea of things was brought up and quickly resolved to show more comedy or the bonus backstory.
One of those that if you found chunks of the series at a good price, could make a fun gift, or is a great way to get kids reading over the holidays. Not as quick a read for me as some because of the flow of the story, but I can see where kids in that in-between stage of Santa knowing would enjoy it and would get a kick out of the funny bits.
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