Santa Claus’ dog discovers a new purpose in this children’s picture book by debut author Sky with illustrations by Koehler (Rickshaw Reggie, 2017, etc.).
At the North Pole, Santa has his own dog park, where 100 canines live and play games with the reindeer. Santa’s favorite is Lance, a gray-spotted, big-eared mutt, who often rides in his sleigh. One Christmas Eve, a gust of wind causes Lance to fall out, and he eventually winds up in a small town’s dog shelter. Before Santa can retrieve him, he’s adopted by a military family; Dad is about to ship out overseas, so the family gets Lance for moral support. The dog plays with the kids and keeps them safe and happy, and when the next Christmas Eve rolls around, Lance is torn: Should he return to Santa or stay with his new family? Sky handles this struggle deftly, giving Lance’s decision a satisfying resolution that’s filled with love. The rhyming text scans well, making this book an easy one to read aloud. Koehler’s cheerful, brightly colored illustrations help tell the story through Lance’s vibrant expressions. The dog’s new family appears to be mixed-race, and the author’s sympathy for soldiers and military families is clear in both the text and images.
A sweet, powerful Christmas story.