Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chuck Groenick

It's almost Christmas and the air is electric with anticipation.  Sometimes, though, it is nice to step away from all the hustle and bustle, the crowds and the long, long lines, make some nice hot chocolate for everyone (or whatever else tickles your fancy), put the kids into their pajamas and get ready to enjoy reading the calmest, most delightful of Christmas books.

Santa Clauses is a collection of 25 haikus written by Santa as he prepares for his big travel night.  There is a short introduction explaining how Santa was inspired to write his own poems about life at the North Pole in the month of December, after Mrs. Claus had given him a book of them.  Santa loved these Japanese haikus so much, he decided to try his hand at writing this particular form of short but expressive poetry.

And so each day, Santa finds something around him that is inspirational.  Maybe it's Mrs. Claus making snow angels on December 3rd (my personal favorite), or moving names from the naughty to the nice list on December  6th.  How about a kiss under the mistletoe from Mrs. Claus on December 11th.  All the big and small joyful moments that go into making Christmas a magical time are recounted in Santa's poems.  Even practical moments, like untangling the Christmas tree lights, or making toys in the workshop with the elves while listening to holiday music on the radio, become the stuff of poetry.

And lets not forget the beauty surrounding the North Pole, even if a reindeer does come along and eat the snowman's carrot nose, there are trees trimmed with pine cones, snow and icicles, and the stars overhead the outshine the lights on even the largest of outdoor light decorations.  It's all there.  Santa is an astute observer of life around him and he writes about it all happily and tenderly.

Santa Clauses is a wonderful book to read as at bedtime, or anything time holiday anticipation gets too high, or toy commericals threaten to overwhelm.  Readers are sure to sigh, to laugh and to just get that overall good feeling that should be so much a part of Christmas and that Bob Raczka has captured so well.

The 25 haikus are a real window into Santa's life that kids are sure to love seeing.  And, since the form of the haiku is described in the introduction, parents and kids might want to try their own hand at expressing the moments or traditions that mean much to them during the holiday season.

And, since there is one haiku for each day, you might even use this beautiful book as an advent calendar, reading one poem a day as a family.

The illustrations so perfectly match the mood of the haikus.  Artist Chuck Groenink used a muted palette to create illustrations that remind the reader of folk art using pencils, gouache and photoshop.

Santa Clauses is a welcome addition to any collection of holiday books, and is sure to become a family favorite and reading it a yearly tradition.

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley


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