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SANTA PAWS by Ellen Emerson White


by Ellen Emerson White & illustrated by Robert J. Blake

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-32438-6
Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

White has adapted material from her series of chapter books (written under the pen name of Nicholas Edwards) about a homeless dog named Santa Paws. The dog has an uncanny ability to rescue people in need, and he finally finds a family who takes him in after he rescues another family from a Christmas Eve fire in their home. Long-winded descriptions of the dog’s sad and lonely life along with his many good deeds form the plot, but the compilation of anecdotes from the series leads to a disjointed structure that doesn’t hang together logically or in the layout of text with illustrations. The succession of multiple rescues all in one Christmas season borders on the ridiculous, and the strung-together plot leaves holes big enough to drive a sleigh through. Logic must be completely suspended when Santa Paws limps into church with burned paws on Christmas morning—into the Catholic church where a rabbi is conducting an ecumenical service for the whole town. Blake’s excellent watercolor illustrations include an appealing cover with the dog popping out of a Christmas package, but his polished paintings can’t pull off a Santa Paws–style rescue. (Picture book. 5-8)