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SANTA CALLS by William Joyce


by William Joyce & illustrated by William Joyce

Age Range: 7 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-021133-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Joyce's version of a ride on the Polar Express is more style than substance. Just before Christmas, 1908, dashing boy-inventor Art Atchinson Ainsworth; his best friend, Comanche brave Spaulding Littlefeets; and his scorned little sister Esther receive an invitation (complete with futuristic flying machine) to visit Santa. Their visit is climaxed by Esther's dramatic rescue from the Dark Elves and their evil Queen. ``But why did you call for us?'' Art wants to know. Santa answers, ``Some secrets are best left unsolved.'' Art never finds out, but readers do, in two appended letters from Esther (``Dear Santa...what I really wish for is for my brother Art to be my friend'') and Santa (``I'm glad our little adventure did the trick''). Readers may be disappointed to find so unsurprising a gift in such glorious wrapping, but the huge illustrations, rendered with Joyce's usual cinematic, art-deco sensibility, burst with exuberant crowds and visual fanfares, melodramatic poses and clever jokes. Figures have the gloss and solidity of polished wooden models: Art looks like Will Rogers, and Santa like a benevolent tycoon, while the skies over Ozlike Toyland are filled with searchlights and fanciful balloons. Read quickly; linger over the art. (Picture book. 7+)