Title: The Great Santa Stakeout
Author: Betsy Bird
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019
Alright, alright…I know what you’re going to say. “You’re reviewing ANOTHER Dan Santat book? ANOTHER ONE? Girl, this blog is called ‘Jess Reviews a Book,’ not ‘Jess Just Reviews Dan Santat and Talks Incessantly About How Much Of A GIANT Fan She Is.’ Also, side note, never call it that because the URL would be insane.”
Welp FYI, I didn’t choose this book. This book chose me. Or, more accurately, this book was chosen FOR me FROM the library BY Lily.
It just happened to be illustrated by world’s greatest children’s book illustrator, Mr. Dan Santat. (Applause goes here.)
It’s written by Betsy Bird, author of another book we really like – Giant Dance Party!
Put them both together, and you’ve got a winning recipe, right? Right?
That has to be right, doesn’t it?
Yes, of course it is.
The book is all about Freddy Melcher, Santa’s number one fan. (I thought that was my best friend’s mom, Barb. Barb’s tagline is “If you don’t believe in Santa, you don’t get any presents.”) He loves Santa in a way only a true fan can: by dressing up like him for birthdays and holidays unrelated to Christmas. And by collecting stuff – LOTS of stuff. Santa figures, Santa posters, Santa EVERYTHING. (This also describes my mother’s approach to Christmas.)
But he’s missing one key collectable: a selfie with Santa.
So, Freddy being a clever young lad, devises a surefire plan to catch Santa in the act and snap his photograph.
Everything seems to be going well. The traps have been set. Christmas Eve has arrived and Freddy has convinced his parents that everything is totally normal, nothing to see here. Freddy fall asleep. Until…a terrible crash from the roof awakens him! He jumps out of bed and sees…something fall off the roof!
Oh, no! Santa’s a goner!
Just kidding, He’s not, obviously. But I don’t want to give away the ending, so let’s just say “You can’t outwit the big elf.”
Let’s talk about what’s good about this book:
- Great art. Fabulous art. Wonderful art. Just…perfect. Did I mention that my wonderful husband bought me a picture from After the Fall and it hangs above my desk and I love it so? Because he did. And it does. And I do. And, if you’re wondering, it’s the picture where Humpty is shopping for cereal. It’s one of my favourite pictures in a kid’s book EVER.
- The story is fast-paced and the writing is crisp. One thing I find when reading Giant Dance Party is that it’s a bit on the wordy side. My kiddos love a long story, so they enjoy it a lot…but having worked with kids who haven’t got the attention span for something so long, I appreciate the brevity of The Santa Stakeout.
- The story is funny. Lily really enjoyed the whole thing, and thought the ending was clever.
Since we received 8000 cm (approximately) of snow yesterday, now feels like a good time to start in on Christmas celebrations.* If you’re living in a winter wonderland too, this is the perfect story to start the season.
Mama’s review: It’s Dan Santat, so obviously 5 million thumbs up.
Lily’s comment: “I really like the story! But…but…really, you’re Santa, right? And…you don’t climb on the roof, right? Because you’d fall off.” (What can I say, the girl knows her mama.)
*Karl has adamantly insisted that we are NOT to put up the Christmas tree until after Vivi’s birthday (right at the end of the month). So the girls and I have decided that probably just applies to the BIG green tree, but no to the smaller, more decorative trees. Or the hot pink one with neon pink lights. That one is going up this weekend.