Nicholas lives with his father, Joel, who is a woodcutter in Finland. They are poor, but Nicolas is relatively happy and enjoys spending time in the forest with his dad. One day some men come and offer Joel a great deal of money if he will help them bring back proof that elves are real. Joel agrees to go with them, and arranges for Nicolas' aunt to come and watch over him while Joel is gone. Nicolas' aunt is cruel and abusive so when Joel doesn't return after several months, Nicolas goes on a grand quest to find him.
This is an origin story about how Nicolas becomes Father Christmas. It is not all sugar plums and lolly pops. Nicolas finds out that his father isn't the perfect person he always thought he was. Nicholas has some pretty harrowing experiences, but the tension is lightened by a good dose of humor. The story is definitely told from a British point of view. Nicolas becomes Father Christmas, not the more American Santa Claus, but even American readers will enjoy the many references to Christmas traditions.(234 p.)