Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Knows

Santa Knows by Cynthia & Greg Leitich Smith; illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. Personal copy.

Let us pause as we all realize that yes, I managed to review something timely.

The Plot: Alfie F. Snorklepuss doesn't believe in Santa Claus. He's more than just a little annoyed when his younger sister, Noelle, insists on believing (and insists that he believe), so Alfie sets out to prove there is no Santa. When you know you're right, you want the world to agree.

The Good: Alfie is quite the little zealot as he sets out to prove there is no Santa. He not only researches Santa (and flying, flying reindeer, the North Pole, etc.); he tells the kids at school, the editor of the local paper, the radio DJ, etc. I love his determination to prove what he knows to be true; and how that also becomes his insistence that what he believes is something everyone should believe.

And, of course, any grown up knows how this story ends: Alfie doesn't just realize the error of his ways. Nope, it's shown to him by not only meeting Santa but also taking a trip to Santa's workshop. And for all you disbelievers who may be inclined to say that it was all a dream... well, as the pictures show, it was real.

Bjorkman, the illustrator, has details in his pictures that quick readers may miss (you know how I love pictures that reward careful viewing). In the library, book title include Santa: Too Fat to Fly and North Pole to Everywhere: Is it Possible? Alfie's pajamas contain Christmas pictures (snowman, Santa, Christmas tree) with a red circle and line through it. Meanwhile, his classmates (a multicultural group) have Christmas sweaters and festive red and green shirts.

Alfie's sister's full name is J. Noelle Snarklepuss. I'm betting the J stands for Joyeaux.

Another reason I loved this book falls under pure coincidence. My niece, Cheetah, has one of those names (her real name, not blog name!) that does not appear on any of those magnets, pencils, etc. that are found in stores. Yet her nickname and her middle name appear in this story. She's going to be thrilled.

Links: the official Santa Knows website. The Planet Esme review. Authors interview at One Writer's Journey. The Book Moot review. Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast review.

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