News flash: Santa quits smoking! This version of the famous Christmas poem has one unique feature: The references to Santa’s pipe and the smoke that “encircled his head like a wreath” have been edited out of the text.
Purists may decry mucking about with a beloved classic, but plenty of parents might not want to introduce old St. Nick as a smoker. An author attribution on the cover reads, “Edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century,” and a commitment to nonsmoking is a legitimate goal in materials intended for children. A clever note to readers from Santa on the back cover flap explains the excision of the smoking text and also affirms in a humorous way that Santa’s costume uses only fake fur out of respect for “my dear friends the artic polar bears.” The illustrations are greeting-card pretty, with an old-fashioned home and the father in a nightcap and holding a candle. (The lighted candles on the Christmas tree are something else 21st-century children don’t need.) The toys in Santa’s pack look like they come from the 1950s, and the illustrators’ style is clearly influenced by animated Disney movies of that era.
Well-meant, but not memorable aside from the smoke-free environment. (Picture book. 3-6)