by Margery Cuyler
illustrated by Michael Garland
Square Fish, New York, 2009
Age group: preschool to mid primary school
I heard of this book as being written to show children that bad things can change into good so I wanted to read it with my own children.
The storyA fun Christmas book that presents Santa in a relatable way.Click To Tweet
This is a beautiful book, and a decent size, too (a little taller than an A4 landscape page). Garland has done a fantastic job illustrating this book – the pictures are detailed and colourful and cover entire pages. I love the expressions on faces throughout the book.
It is a fun story – I’d never heard of the reindeer being impatient and taking off without Santa before he came back up the chimney! And when Santa tripped over, the popping eyes and flying false teeth made me laugh out loud!
However, I really don’t understand the good/bad aspects of the book. On each page, something happens and is followed by ‘that’s good! No that’s bad!’ or ‘that’s bad! No, that’s good!” To me, in every instance, the first comment is correct – for instance the storm easing is good and the Santa falling out of the sleigh is bad – so I don’t see the point in the second comment. And there is no explanation on the next page about the change of good to bad (or vice versa).
I guess you can use the good/bad switch to start some conversations with children but it would have to be a deliberate act as the book doesn’t naturally lead that way. However, my eight year old immediately looked for reasons to swap good to bad (eg Santa fell into a pile of snow and wasn’t hurt) so there obviously is merit in this technique!
When we got to the last page, my seven year old said “Oh, no! Why does it have to be so short – I want lots more pages” and that says it all, doesn’t it?!