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Friday, December 28, 2012

The Santa Trap, written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene. Peachtree, 2009. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Bartleby were alarmed to discover that their son had climbed up inside the living-room chimney.  They were even more alarmed to discover that Bradley had nailed several sticks of dynamite around the chimney walls. "What are you doing, dear?" asked Mr. Bartleby nervously."

Is three days after Christmas too late to tell you about another wonderful story that will have children begging for more? I guess you can always
save it for next year.

Bradley Bartleby is every parent's nightmare; but then, who is to blame for that? He was 'born bad' and it only gets worse as he gets older. His parents are rich and indulgent, fearing his wrath should they not bow to his every whim. His list for Santa is so long it takes a team to type it. Santa knows all about Bradley and is not about to be bullied by him. At the same time, the kindness is his heart will not allow him to have the beastly brat do without a gift:

"Santa is such a kindhearted
old fellow that he believes
no child, even one as
bad as Bradley,
should go without a
Christmas present."

So, when Bradley gets his newest gift of socks, he's had it. He begins a year-long plan to trap Santa when next he makes his annual journey. He wants his presents to come from Santa, not from his parents. As he discusses his trap, he also makes it clear the reason for doing what he is doing:

"I'm going to
catch the fat fool and take every present he's got."

His parents cannot fathom the depths of destruction that their progeny is willing to devise to get his own way. As days go by, the trap becomes more and more elaborate, involving dynamite, stolen tigers, guillotines and trap doors. By the time December rolls around, Bradley has the 'Santa Trap' set and is ready for action.

The results are not at all what he is expecting....

The boldly colored artwork will inspire much consideration and discussion. There is a lot to see as Bradley carries out his plan to make the coming Christmas an unpleasant surprise for the man who so selflessly gives to the children of the world. The expressive faces add drama and concern as Bradley moves forward with his plan, always thinking first about his own needs and his revenge. His face is perpetually diabolical as he carries out each well-planned step. He can only imagine how devastating it is going to be for Santa himself. In the darkness we can sense his sinister charm as shadows help to tell the real story.

Santa, the object of the year's diabolical plan, does not succumb to anger or omission. He arrives, carries out his benevolent work and leaves just what Bradley is going to need, plus his usual gift. So much fun for those who are not so enamored of the regular fare at this festive time of year.

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