Heavy snow blanketing a tiny village may mean that Santa won’t be able to reach it.
Anna and Michael, two children, peer anxiously out of their window, wishing for a happy Christmas. “If we wish as hard as we can, Santa will hear us,” says Anna. Indeed he does, standing atop a hill, a cluster of rabbits around him. Santa rummages around in his cupboards to find just the right gifts for the villagers. He chooses just one “perfect surprise gift” and heads to the village on his skis. In the morning, Anna and Michael see an enormous sack in the middle of the village. All of the people shovel their way toward it, trying to guess what it contains. They unwrap boxes within boxes until they discover the one perfect gift that will make their Christmas perfectly happy as they gather around a table by a fire. All of the village’s inhabitants are white, as is Santa. Old-fashioned clothes suggest a 19th- or early-20th-century European peasant village setting (though one man in a modern-looking jersey and slippers complicates this interpretation). Eschewing the modern character of Santa riding in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, this story gently pulls readers into an unusual perspective. Watercolors in soft focus lend an intimacy to what reads like a folktale, with little animal friends in the illustrations for young children to find.
A sweet message about the meaning of Christmas giving. (Picture book. 3-7)