A boy named Georgie secretly makes presents for his parents and surprises them on Christmas morning, when he receives a surprise gift himself.
The setting is rural Pennsylvania in 1929. Georgie, who looks about 10, has sent a letter to Santa asking for new ice skates, as his are too small, but Georgie’s dad tells him Santa might not be coming to their house that year. On Christmas Eve, Georgie takes his mother’s sewing kit and some of his father’s clothes to his room, where he stays up all night making presents and a Santa suit for himself. On Christmas morning he dresses as Santa and gives his mother a handmade pincushion and his father a key chain. They surprise Georgie with the skates he wanted, as a gift from them rather than Santa. This conclusion neatly sidesteps the issue of Georgie’s belief in Santa and whether Santa is real. Dark, rather depressing illustrations establish a moody atmosphere in the house, with effective characterization of Georgie as a child with both worries and determination. All the characters are white. The title is a misnomer, as Georgie doesn’t really steal anything but simply borrows his mother’s sewing kit and his father’s clothing. The cover illustration shows a sad Georgie holding Christmas tree decorations and wearing a Santa hat, implying he has stolen those decorations.
An entertaining story with a plucky main character, a problem-solver rather than a thief. (Picture book. 4-7)