Santa Bruce


Title: Santa Bruce
Author/Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins
Published: Hyperion, 2018


Guys, how is it that Christmas is 13 days away? Less than TWO WEEKS! We’re finally TOTALLY ready. (I thought I was ready, then I remembered other people that I was going to see before the holiday…and we had to get a few gift cards for Vivi’s awesome teachers and…long story short, we were NOT done. But we are now!)

Anyway, we’ve been continuing our ‘let’s read about Christmas!’ tradition with this fantastic book: Santa Bruce! I told you I was going to hunt out all the other Bruce books, and I wasn’t kidding. I really like this one. Bruce’s surliness, his disdain for everyone and everything, the mice trying to persuade him to be Santa…it’s all good!

Here’s the story, in a nutshell:

Bruce normally skips Christmas by hibernating, but this year his family members (the mice and geese) want him to stay up. So he does. He is not exactly into the Christmas spirit, and he finds the weather nippy. So he wears long underwear and a hat (both red) and is immediately mistaken for the big man himself: Santa. With this case of mistaken identity comes a slew of forest animals and their holiday wishes. And then the forest animals’ parents, thanking Bruce for playing the role of St. Nick.

When everyone leaves his cave, Bruce decides to head to bed…but the mice step in and convince him to be Santa. He delivers gifts (wrapped boxes of crackers, actually) to all the forest critters. They all have an excellent Christmas and then celebrate with a big feast (that Bruce is forced to attend and generally doesn’t enjoy).

I know Bruce is surly. I know Christmas is all about being jolly. But dang it, I like the cut of his jib.

My kiddos know that Santa isn’t real. That is, that Santa is a concept and anyone can be Santa. Vivi kinda figured it out when she was two. I was wrapping gifts and planning a whole surprise for a friend who was having a tough year. Out of the blue, she turned to me and said, “Mama, you Santa?” and I decided, in that split second, to ruin childhood for my kid.

Kidding! I decided to explain that Santa is an idea and a spirit and anyone (anyone!) can be ‘him.’ And that yes, I was one of the many Santas she’d meet in her life. I know people who are die-hard pushers of “you must believe in Santa, dammit!” but it just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t want to have to eventually admit to lying to my child, even if it was just about Santa. I also wanted her to understand that it was in her power to make other people’s lives better/happier/more comfortable. It wasn’t up to a random stranger to pop down a chimney one time a year and bring gifts – it was up to her to pick up the baton and get out there and help, darn it.


Anyway, it’s worked out rather well. Since she was two, we’ve really encouraged the giving part of Christmas. Give to the food bank. Give to homeless people. Give to kids who are sick in the hospital. Give of your time, your talent, your money – whatever it is, just give. And the happiness my girls have felt because of that…well, it’s pretty close to magic.

Mama’s review: 5 surly bears/5
Vivi’s review: “Bruce is so grumpy! I kind of love him.”
Lily’s review: “I can’t believe he gave them all crackers.”

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