Can an inquisitive child find the real Santa?
Rhyming, first-person text follows a child to the city with the family for some holiday fun. They appear white in the cartoon illustrations, with peachy skin and straight, auburn hair (though Grandma’s coif is gray and wavy). When Santa goes by during a parade, he has light-brown skin and round, gold-rimmed glasses. On the facing page, the narrator is surprised to see another Santa with lighter skin and square, black-framed glasses. Puzzled, the child narrates, “I demanded to know: ‘Who is the REAL one?!’ ” Grandma tells her, “It’s Santa’s secret, just as it should be,” but the child decides to investigate. Most of the sleuthing occurs while visiting Santa in a store where he’s taking photos with children. The determined kid whips out a notepad and grills him. This patient, white Santa looks different from the others, rather like he’s stepped out of “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Then, while getting hot cocoa in a coffee shop, the child spies another (white) Santa look-alike (minus the red suit). Before the narrator can ask anything, he says, “ ‘Reindeer like barley and berries to eat. / But carrots,’ he added ‘are their favorite treat.’ ” Then suddenly, he’s gone! This encounter somehow leaves the narrator satisfied with not knowing who the REAL Santa is, but the non-ending may leave readers cold.
Ho-ho-hum. (Picture book. 3-6)