A lighthearted tale chronicles a North Pole disaster and the heroes who save Christmas.
Boylan’s (The Humorous Side of Trucking, 2016) book, narrated by Dalmatian fire dog Bruce, begins in a North Pole village with bustling elves preparing for Christmas. But when the toy factory catches on fire, injuring Santa’s reindeer, it seems as if the holiday is ruined. Thankfully, an elf named Bob comes to the rescue with his personal toy shop and set of spunky reindeer. After preparations are finished, the new team sets off to deliver presents around the world, making special stops at the homes of all the reindeer. After some stormy weather, they finally make it back safely to the North Pole. Boylan emphasizes the theme of cultural diversity, but unfortunately the results are stereotypical and sometimes off-putting. For example, the reindeer include Olga from Russia, “once believed to be a KGB spy,” and Chico from Los Angeles, who speaks Spanish and wears a red bandanna. And in Las Vegas, Santa gives a boy “three new toy slot machines.” The acute attention to detail throughout the book seems overwhelming at first, but it does provide excellent opportunities for children to visualize numbers and learn new vocabulary. In addition, readers can excitedly match the vibrant descriptions with the corresponding illustrations, which are elaborate, colorful, and delightful. But the author should use shorter paragraphs to increase readability.
While kids should enjoy the vivid depictions, this holiday story becomes overshadowed by a messy attempt at celebrating diversity.