It’s Santa Claus the prequel in this witty exploration of Santa’s younger years.
Santa narrates the story himself, starting with his birth on December 25 in Cincinnati to a normal couple who spotted his first name in a bowl of alphabet soup. His preferences and interests as a child are often indicated in Hawkes' illustrations; as a newborn he's wrapped in a red blanket with a tiny Santa cap, and as a little boy, he totes around a pillowcase full of stuffed reindeer toys. Santa and his father build toys together in his basement, and as a young man, Santa starts giving toys away every Christmas Eve. Each aspect of Santa’s character is addressed, so that his current persona seems a logical result of his younger years. A large trim size with expansive double-page spreads lets the acrylic-and–colored-pencil illustrations shine, and lots of the laugh-out-loud humor is presented in the art. And of course, lots of children in Cincinnati will expect to find this under the tree on Christmas morning, a gift from their new hometown hero.
The droll, understated wit of the text and the delightfully comical, skillfully planned illustrations make this a story that will delight both children and adult readers. (Picture book. 4-8)