The Legend of the Christmas Witch

by Dan Murphy (Author) Julia Iredale (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

From Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza and creative partner Dan Murphy comes the long lost tale of the Christmas Witch, Santa Claus's much misunderstood twin sister. 

Gather 'round the fire to hear a Christmas legend that has never been told before...until now. Each year a mysterious figure sweeps into town, leaving behind strange gifts in the night. No, not Santa Claus, but his sister... The Christmas Witch. Her story begins many, many years ago when her brother was torn away from her as a child. Raised alone by a witch of the woods, Kristtōrn's powers of magic grew, as did her temper.

Determined to find her long lost twin, she set out on a perilous journey across oceans to find him. But what she found instead was a deep-seated fear of her powers and a confrontation that would leave the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance. From award-winning producer and actress Aubrey Plaza and her creative partner Dan Murphy comes a holiday story unlike any told before. With all the richness of classic folklore, they've woven a tale of bravery, love and magic. Whatever you thought you knew about Christmas...think again.

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Publishers Weekly

Copper-haired infants abandoned in the Black Forest come to disparate ends in this "forgotten" dark myth. Though young Kristtörn and Kristoffer share the "gift of swiftness" and a life in the woods, the arrival of a cinnamon bun-toting Danish couple--the Kringles--ends with pastry-intent Kristoffer abandoning his sister, who is subsequently taken in by the Yule Witch Lutzelfrau. While Kristoffer learns his adoptive woodcutter father's trade and internalizes "a strong sense of duty and hard work," Kristtörn lives "a wild, carefree life in the forest," learning magic but proving mercurial. When disregarding Lutzelfrau's counsel ends in a flight to the South Pole, Kristtörn takes up a seasonal search for her North Pole-dwelling twin. Employing fairy tale diction, producer Murphy and actor Plaza meld pagan and Christian elements into blocks of text elevated through Iredale's moody folk art. Though the story upholds folktales' neither-here-nor-there ethics, an exploration of male privilege ends up punishing the temperamental female protagonist, undercutting the spooky seasonal telling. All characters read as white. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Raves for The Legend of the Christmas Witch

In a story that pairs the popular holiday with the pagan background of Yuletide, questions of intolerance and human flaws offer interesting layers to ponder and discuss... A well-written and thought provoking tale.—Kirkus Reviews

The story is steeped heavily in the fairy tale tradition—raven scouts, capes woven from leaves, the ability to talk to animals, a queen who lays frozen under ice—and, especially when paired with illuminated-style borders and the deeply saturated colors of the artwork, it conjures up the magic of the Grimms and Andersen.—Booklist

Dan Murphy
Aubrey Plaza, originally from Delaware, is best known for her role as April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation. She has produced and starred in several films including: Ingrid Goes West, The Little Hours, Safety Not Guaranteed and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She and her husband, filmmaker Jeff Baena, currently live in Los Angeles with their two dogs, Frankie and Stevie.

Dan Murphy is a writer and producer who lives in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Delaware, he is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and has been creative partners with Aubrey for over fifteen years.

Julia Iredale is an illustrator from Victoria, BC. She studied Illustration at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and now spends her time painting, making books, and whenever possible escaping into the magic forests of the Canadian West Coast.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
November 20, 2021

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