BUT WHAT IF THERE'S NO CHIMNEY? by Emily Weisner Thompson


Age Range: 4 - 7
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A boy named Ben is worried that Santa won’t be able to visit on Christmas Eve because the new house he’s moved to with his father doesn’t have a chimney.

When Ben and his father move for his dad’s job, a tiny elf named Checkermint moves in too. Checkermint is hidden on every page of the story, though Ben never interacts with him, and the elf isn’t integral to the plot. Ben worries about Santa’s arrival and discusses the issue with the mail carrier, his new friend, Holly, and his classroom teacher. All the characters are white except for Ben’s teacher, who is black. Ben sends a letter to Santa (in Santa Claus, Indiana, apparently this book’s raison d’être) and receives a reassuring response that Santa won’t forget to visit. The unsatisfying conclusion shows Ben asleep in bed on Christmas Eve prior to Santa’s arrival. The slight story is told in limping verse with a singsong rhythm and near-miss rhymes such as “really a key / have no chimney” and “a crayon / biggest fan.” Ben seems a little too old to be worrying about Santa’s arrival, and the inclusion of Checkermint the elf hiding in a different place each day seems distinctly derivative of the popular Elf on the Shelf toy. Unartful, computer-generated illustrations have a flat affect with a grayish tinge that conveys a depressing atmosphere.

An amateurish effort that offers no Christmas magic. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-02392-6
Page count: 24pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2016


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