One thing about being a parent and children is that everything old is new again. New things released today, when you don’t have children, have the potential to become classics by the time you have children. That’s the case with Santa Calls by William Joyce. It was initially released in 1993 and hasn’t aged a day in its 24 years.
It’s easy for me to say that it hasn’t aged a day, because this was my first time seeing the book. Santa Calls has an old soul and will still be a familiar, gentle, Christmas story about family, respect and siblings when people look at the book in the future.
Santa Calls is the story of Art Atchinson Aimesworth, a young boy with an active imagination and a younger sister who he sometimes not nice to. This story is perfectly aged for us as there are two brothers in the house, aged 8 and 6. Not surprisingly, the older one is sometimes not nice to his younger brother.
One day Art finds a box in his yard. His friend Spalding, sister Esther and he open it up to discover a flying machine. The three figure that it must be a vehicle to go see Santa, so they hitch it up their canoe and hit the open sky. From here the three stumble across all manner of mystery and adventure that seems familiar-and at the same time entirely fresh and original. It’s like an action story with Santa as the hero! A trusty General by the name of Ali Aku, a large mega-city where snowmen stand guard and dogs march in unison also inhabit the world. There are also dark elves, an evil queen and battle sequences!
This is also a good-night book. It doesn’t seem like a book that’s short enough to read to a child going to bed, because there’s so much going on, but it is. Santa Calls is also a big book. It’s physically large with big pages and deceivingly large illustrations. That fact also makes it seem like it’s too much to read in one sitting, but it’s not.
Santa Calls is fun, classic Christmas reading that kids four and up will love hearing. Eight year old kids will be able to read it on their own and will absolutely get lost in the adventures of a boy who needs to be a better brother. The book saves its MacGuffin for the very end after the story actually finishes. If you’re familiar with the book then you know about the letters. If not, read the book all the way through. Thumb through every page and then, just before the back-board cover, you’ll find the two letters that pave the way for the entire book. Do not read them before reading the book, save them until the end.
If you know Santa Calls then you get it. If you don’t know this book and have a child who is younger than nine years old they will ask you to read it over and over-and you won’t mind a bit.