In this second entry about River Rose, the protagonist uses magical balloons to float to the North Pole, where she enjoys fantastical treats and meets Santa Claus.
River Rose, a white girl with short, blonde hair and freckles, has written a letter to Santa and wants to deliver it in person. On Christmas Eve, she and her little dog fly off with the balloons, following the sounds of singing voices. They find their way to Santa’s village at the North Pole, where they are welcomed by Mrs. Claus and the elves (singing a verse from a song by Clarkson). While waiting for Santa’s return, River Rose and her dog join the elves in sampling 10 enchanted treats, such as flavored snowballs and life-size gingerbread houses. When Santa returns the sleepy girl and dog to their home, River Rose gives him her letter, which simply says, “Thank you!” On Christmas morning, the girl finds a special present under her tree: a music box that plays the elves’ Christmas song. The story is told in rhyming couplets in a cheery though somewhat singsong rhythm, with only one verse from the elves’ special song (which can be heard in full online). Fleming’s mixed-media collage illustrations elevate the story with exuberant action and amusing details. The elves have varying skin tones and include both males and females. Santa and his wife are white, and Mrs. Claus is refreshingly modern with short, gray hair, jeans, and stylish red boots.
A cheerful effort with a tiny, heartfelt message tucked in River Rose’s red envelope. (Picture book. 3-7)