In this picture book based on true events, a community’s landmark Santa Claus statue is renovated and restored.
For many years, families in Evansville, Indiana, knew they were getting close to home when they could see a roadway Santa Claus statue: “And in the darkened distance, / stands an image in the light. / We see his mitten waving, / up ahead, a welcome sight!” Throughout the year, his statue—one arm raised in a friendly greeting—could be seen hailing passersby. But over time, the statue became less jolly, getting cracked, faded, and worn. Then it disappeared, abandoned in a junkyard. But in 2016, the community came together to have the statue repaired and repainted, adding a time capsule with photos, letters, and other relics from locals. Now Santa stands and waves year-round again. A supplementary section explains, with photographs, how the real-life rescue came about, helping to fill out the story. Angie Karcher (The Legendary R.A. “Cowboy” Jones, 2014, etc.) has a good ear for meter and rhyme, and the story of loss and restoration is an appealing one for children who celebrate Christmas and love Santa. The illustrations, by debut illustrator Dana Karcher, are also attractive, with their soft colors and well-rendered details, although it’s unclear at first whether Santa is flat or 3-D. It’s possible that not everyone appreciates a 35-foot statue of Santa through all seasons of the year, but the book takes for granted that it’s beloved.
A well-told, warmhearted story that underlines how a town can work together on a common goal.