If, like me, you have a collection of Christmas themed picture books you may also, like me, look for new ones that capture something new and unique, that you bring out year after year. Every year a festive picture book is published that stands out in some way as special. It may be as a new classic in the making or a surprise, ‘I never saw that idea coming’ kind of book. Often, it’s a joy, a laugh, a ponder of a book to chat over while and after reading. How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? stands out in all of these ways.
It is a very simple premise, a book that offers us lots of ideas to mull over the question that gets asked in homes everywhere: how does Santa get down the chimney?
Each page at the first half of the book has one or two or more questions that invites us to ponder and talk about. I really liked that the first double page spread offers two open ended questions, How does he do it? How does it work? with one simple suggestion, Does he tighten his belt? to start off young readers thinking about and offering their own ideas before turning the page. From here on we are invited to think about lots of interesting and innovative ways Santa may do it and other ways he may find his way in and the practicalities and consequences of a chimney entrance, such as, Does his suit get quite sooty? And then does Santa do laundry before he goes to the next house?
In the second half of the book the story muses over happens to Santa once he finally gets in. One such musing is how dogs must like Santa since they don’t bark and what he does to win them over and another is how he manages to see in the dark. Then perfectly, in full circle, the story ends where it started, with Santa back on the roof with his reindeers and a final parting thought to leave us to consider, Santa goes up the chimney the same way he comes down. And I have no idea how Santa does that.
Mac Barnett and Jon Klaasen have turned this simple age-old mystery into an utterly charming and magical story to share with curious and enquiring minds as well as offering so much to reflect and chew over with the potential for creating more questions too. The partnership of Mac Barnett’s amusing muses and Jon Klassen’s portrayal of the fun and comedic ways Santa navigates his way into homes is perfect. The colour palette when outside has a strong contrasting black sky with snow and the Christmas red of Santa, while the inside illustrations are muted down to give a red-brown warm glow that is reminiscent of a light given from Christmas lights and firelight. Alongside the fun and humour How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? leaves a warm glow that I know will be a Christmas favourite for many years to come.
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