Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Author: Tim Slover
Publisher: Bantam (November 2010)
ISBN: 0553808109, EAN: 9780553808100
Page Count: 176 pages
In 1343, Klaus was orphaned and adopted by a guild of woodworkers and craftsmen. Surrounded by tools and wood since a young age, Klaus became a master craftsman at the young age of 17, making a bitter enemy at the same time. When the Black Death visited his small village shortly afterwards, Klaus was deeply grieved at the losses of others and sought a way to lift the spirits of those around him – particularly the children. It began with 53 toys made for the children in his own village, which were blessed by the village priest and delivered on Christmas Eve. And so the legend of Santa Claus begins…
Ever wondered who Santa Claus really is and how he came to be? Well, look no further than this charming little Christmas tale that could easily become a classic in your home. Not only does Tim Slover present a brief, but welcome, back story about Klaus’s mortal life, but he answers all of those questions that children ask around Christmastime. Why does Santa Claus use reindeer to pull his sleigh? Because he grew up in the cold, snowy north and they were his wife’s favorite racing animal. Why does Santa Claus deliver toys down the chimney? Because Klaus’s mortal enemy, Rolf Eckhof, took half of the toys one year and burned them, which meant it wasn’t safe to leave the toys outside anymore. This also led to the popular belief that you better be good or you won’t get a Christmas toy as all of the parents of those toyless children used the experience as an opportunity to remember all of the things their children did wrong that year. How does Santa deliver toys around the world in one night? Through Chronolepsy or time stopping. How does Santa understand all of the different languages? By using the Lingua Franca Effect, which means Santa and his reindeer speak and understand whatever language is predominant in the region they are in. The book also covers the concept of Tarrying (not aging and living a long life), why many believe Santa Claus is a Saint, how he makes toys, how he receives letters, how he travels, who the elves really are and so much more. Think of a question about Santa Claus and it will probably be answered in this book!
The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus begins and ends with a narrative by a person who claims to have seen Santa’s sleigh and to have had the privilege of reading The Green Book, which is a biography of Klaus. I feel that these sections will be interesting to adults and older children, but they kind of drag it down a bit for little children. I understand why Tim Slover, the author, used them here and I appreciate the challenge to spread the true spirit of Christmas in the season, but they were not my favorite parts of the book. My favorite part was the story of Santa Claus itself. This book is brief, succinct and there is not a lot of time and effort developing characters, describing locales or going into great depth on any particular point and I think that this was a great way to go. I envision families around the US including this book as part of their holiday traditions. This is a wonderful little tale to read aloud to children of all ages. Santa’s story is only seven chapters long and, while some of the chapters are lengthy, I feel that this book could easily be shared with children over a week or two in December. Hopefully it will spark a wonderful feeling for Christmas in readers of all ages and draw families closer together during the holiday season as they focus more on the spirit of giving than on receiving.
I have enjoyed reading this book for Christmas during these past two years. It is a quick, easy read that only takes an hour and, with a mug of hot chocolate close by and some Christmas carols playing, it always brings a smile to my face and gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling about the holidays. Again, this is a simple story, told with simple words and, while there is a villain, there is not a lot of excitement or thrill in the book, but I have grown to love it. If you are looking for a good family gift to purchase for Christmas or enjoying reading holiday books yourself, this is one for the keeper shelf!
This book has some scenes of mild peril. Many people die from the Black Death, but there are no details provided and just a general feeling of grief and loss. There is an attempted murder, but it fails. There are some brief philosophical and religious questions addressed. Appropriate for viewers of all ages, recommended for ages 6 and up or to be read aloud to anyone.