Somewhere in the maelstrom of author Jo Nesbo’s mind was a Christmas story unlike any other. The result is Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Silent (But Deadly) Night, a book that even by its title, lets you in on the fact that it’s not traditional and clearly aimed at middle grade kids who like fart jokes. However, once you start reading the book you realize that it goes much deeper, touching on the commercialization of Christmas, the story of a retired Santa Claus, family memories and more. It does this while mixing in incredibly silly elements like a taxidermy giraffe head on the front of a flying car, copyright law and of course, fart powder.
Fart Powder starts off with Dr. Proctor, an eccentric inventor, a neighbor named Lisa and Nilly, the young boy who serves as the main character. Nilly is about 10 years old and doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He’s having a conversation with Dr. Proctor where the elder says that he doesn’t believe in Santa he actually knows him. From here we discover that the rights to celebrating or even saying “Christmas” is illegal unless you’ve spent over 10,000 crowns at one of the stores that is owned by Mr. Thrane.
Mr. Thrane is the local business owner who has two boys who also antagonize Nilly and his friends throughout Fart Powder. It turns out that Thrane tricked the King of Norway into selling the rights of Christmas to him through a fraudulent claim.
Most of the people haven’t spent that much money in his stores and are unable to celebrate Christmas. Thankfully this doesn’t sit well with Nilly who motivates Dr. Proctor to do something. Dr. Proctor goes to where he last saw Santa Claus, who goes by Stainslaw now. They visit the pub where a gaunt Stainslaw is drinking beer from a boot stein. Some of the waitresses are speaking German and it’s unsure why the formerly man in the red suit isn’t acting like his formerly jolly self. Just then a vampire giraffe exits the cuckoo clock telling the pub patrons that it’s 7:00.
The short plot version of Fart Powder can be confusing, I know. The book is random and sometimes has an incredibly short attention span, concentrating on Christmas traditions in one sentence and then covering two people in a fart blown snow drift the next. That’s the adult in me reading this book.
Middle school kids, especially those that love creative, left of center stories will immediately understand the current that Fart Powder swims in. The text is on par with upper elementary school students; however that age might be too young for the length of the book, as well as, a couple instances in the story.
What’s most surprising is how traditional and respectful a book called Fart Powder, Silent (But Deadly) Night is about Christmas. It’s not religious at all, but it treats the holiday with the public appreciation and wonderment that all kids have in their eyes when they think about Santa Claus, or Stainslaw.
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Silent (But Deadly) Night is by New York Best-Selling author Jo Nesbo. He’s Norway’s most successful author and the Doctor Proctor series of books has been translated into more than 35 languages. The book also features illustrations by Mike Lowery.