Santa from Cincinnati
illustrated by Kevin Hawkesy
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012
FORMAT: Picture Book
AGES: Preschool, Elementary School
A young boy was born in the hospital on December 25th. He had a number of crazy things that remind the reader of a particular Jolly Old Elf. For example this young Santa Claus plays with stuffed reindeer, carries sacks of things on his back, or building his own toys in his father’s workshop. Eventually he had so many toys that he started giving them away. Then he had to create a naughty and nice list to figure out who to give toys to. Then he had to limit it to only giving the toys away on his birthday.
This is an interesting take on the legend of Santa Claus. I find it interesting though…this legend has nothing to do with anything religious. St. Nicholas is often credited for being the Santa Claus. Not so with this dapper red-head (eventually turned white-haired) guy from Cincinnati. Since it doesn’t take on any religious aspects, this would be a good choice for a school or group telling where the religious aspect can’t be the focal point. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the “Here Comes Santa Claus” movie in that regard. However, it was a typical Christmas story in that the readers can see the end from the beginning (it does help that any child reading this book would certainly already be considered an expert on the man in the red suit). So, with that in mind, this is more of a Christmas story to read together and not think about until the next holiday season rather than one you will dream about reading over and over again.
What to Do After Reading This Book:
Talk about babies/kids/and adults and how personalities might carry through.
Talk about what the reader was like when s/he was a baby/toddler.
Make a toy out of random bits around the house.
Secure cotton balls to your face to make your own “Santa” beard.
Make a gift and secretly give it to someone.