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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Little Santa, written and illustrated by Jon Agee. Dial Books, Penguin. 2013. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"Except for Santa.
He loved the North Pole.
He liked making snow angels,
and snowmen,
decorating pine trees,
and baking gingerbread cookies
in the shape of people.
Most of all, he liked sliding
down the chimney."

As we wake up this week to wind chills that hover in the -40 range, I understand why the Claus family was not content with life at the North Pole. I mean, it is even colder  there than it is here! So, when they decide that life in Florida is much more appealing, a move in imminent. Santa, the youngest of the Claus's seven children, is the only one who seems put off by their choice for a new life. 

While the members of his family hate the snow, the shovelling, the fire building, the snow, the cold, ice fishing, Santa loves it all! He has some special talents, sliding down the chimney being the most notable. So, he is definitely unhappy when the family starts packing for their move south.  Luckily for him, that very night a terrible blizzard blows in and traps the family under drifts that bury the house. Santa has the solution...he loves the chimney and is sure that he can get out:

"I can shimmy up the chimney!"

He does just that. As he wanders about in a winter wonderland, he manages to dig a very cold reindeer out of a snowbank. The reindeer can fly! Soon they find a house with a light shining from a second floor window. Inside, Santa discovers a group of elves, just itching to help him rescue his family. It's off to work they go, and soon have fashioned shovels and a sleigh. Their mission to find Santa's house begins. The Claus family are patiently waiting for rescue when the dog hears a noise in the fireplace. Can it be Santa? What do you think?

This is a wonderful new picture book that will be enjoyed throughout the year, and for many years to come. Jon Agee uses his very distinct and considerable artistic skills to bring us an explanation for how Santa chose the perfect profession for himself.  Using watercolors, outlined in thick black lines, he creates a family and setting that is sure to capture attention. He is a master in the use of white space, droll characters, and perfect timing for each turn of the page. It's a wonderful story and worthy of your attention.

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