dear Santa

Dear Santa – Christmas adult book review

Dear Santacover of Dear Santa from Samuel Johnson

edited by Samuel Johnson OAM
Hachette Australia, Sydney, 2018

Age group: teen to adult
Format: 148 page paperback

A compilation of letters to Santa, written by Australian celebrities as adults.

The story

Not a story as such, but the book was thought of and executed by Samuel Johnson (unicycle rider, TV celebrity, brother who founded Love Your Sister) as a fund raiser in the fight against cancer. All of the letters have been written without the celebrities receiving any payment for their contribution to the book.

My review

Obviously this is a collection so there is a lot of variation from page to page – some letters are nostalgic, some are funny and some are a bit political (such as wanting refugee children out of detention on Nauru). There is also variation from a few lines to a few pages – either way, giving you space to read it slowly over time or easily read it as a single entity.

inside the book, Dear Santa

I found it interesting that the people I was most drawn to read were not always the letters I most enjoyed reading. A couple of letters felt like they were trying too hard – trying to be clever or impressive rather than getting into the spirit of writing to Santa (to me, that is genuine and heart felt) but the range of topics and styles was interesting and thought provoking, too.

It is nice to have it adult centric – I mean, it could have been letters of what they imagined they wrote as children, or some other child centric model.

Celebrities included…

There are 68 letters to Santa in the book, written by a range of Australians, including:

  • Gus Luenig, artist
  • Shane Jacobson, Chief Scout (Vic), actor
  • Deborah Mailman, actor
  • Leigh Sales, ABC presenter
  • Rove McManus, TV personality
  • Hildegrad Hinton, prison guard
  • Stuart Coupe, band manager of old, broadcaster
  • Paris Mitchell, public speaker
  • Helen Garner, writer
  • Ian Smith, political lobbyist, married to Natasha Stott Despojer
  • Peter FitzSimmons, ex rugby player, presenter

Would I recommend it? How can I not? Raising money to fight cancer is such a worthy cause – cancer causes so much pain and suffering. Add in it is about letters to Santa and it has my vote!

But seriously, it is an interesting book and has some letters well worth reading. Sure, some of the letters I didn’t like much and others didn’t add a lot of value, but overall the letters are good. It is an easy read given you can read just a page or two at a sitting, so I think it makes a great Christmas gift.

 

Dear Santa – Christmas book review

front cover of Dear SantaDear Santa

by Rod Campbell

Macmillan Children’s books, London, 2004

Age group: 2-4 years

Format: small, soft cover

From the creator of Dear Zoo and It’s mine comes a lift-the-flap Christmas story.

The story

Santa tries to find the perfect gift for our narrator, going through a few ideas first.

inside pages of Dear Santas

My review

Obviously there is a simple plot, being a board book, but there is a happy ending and it all works together nicely!

Dear Santa - more than just a cute lift-the-flap bookClick To Tweet

This book has opportunities for children to learn adjectives, such as small and messy, use fine motor skills to open flaps and relate to the story through items they may have or want. I like that it also opens up conversations about what a child wants for Christmas (just as a conversation or maybe as a catalyst in writing a letter to Santa) and a discussion on choosing gifts for others – it is about what they really would appreciate, not what you would like, and that is an important lesson in empathy and emotional intelligence for children.

Close view of pop up window inside Dear Santa

Pop up window inside Dear Santa

The pictures are clear and colourful, and the book is well made so the flaps should last many openings by little fingers (the card is thick enough they won’t accidentally rip them the first time the book is read, and possibly not even deliberately).

 

I like that Santa is shown as working hard to find the perfect gift – caring for others takes effort – and am amused that even Santa is finishing his Christmas gifts and wrapping at the last minute! You could say there is a message to kids about not leaving things to the last minute, but I think it is there to relate things to Christmas more directly and to give adults a laugh as they read and reread this book to toddlers!

So do I recommend it? Absolutely! This is a beautiful, interactive and fun book for toddlers – and those of us a bit older as well!

 

 

Dear Santa, Love Mum

I just had to share this one… I especially like the very last line.

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good mum all year. I’ve fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor’s office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of choc.bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son’s red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I’ll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I’d like a pair of legs that don’t ache (in any colour, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don’t hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the lolly aisle in the grocery store.

I’d also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you’re hauling big ticket items this year I’d like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn’t broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, ‘Yes, Mummy’ to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don’t fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting ‘Don’t eat in the living room’ and ‘Take your hands off your brother,’ because my voice seems to be just out of my children’s hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it’s too late to find any of these products, I’d settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don’t mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare tomato sauce a  vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment
as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don’t catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don’t eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

MUM!

P.S. One more thing…you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children happy, healthy and always believing.

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