Title: Love, Santa
Written by: Martha Brockenbrough
Illustrated by: Lee White
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018
Ages: 8-11 (those starting to doubt Santa :))
Themes: truth, Christmas spirit, empathy, universal love, letters, holiday books
When Lucy was 5, she wrote Santa a letter.
In a series of letters, a young girl writes to Santa to ask about the North Pole, Mrs. Claus, and of course, Christmas goodies. Year after year, Santa writes back, and a heartwarming relationship develops, until one year, the girl writes to her mother instead: Mom, are you Santa? Her mother responds to say that no, she is not Santa. Because Santa is bigger than any one person — we bring him out through kindness to one another and the power of imagination. This transformative tale spins a universal childhood experience into a story about love, giving, and the spirit of Christmas. (Publisher)
Why I like this book:
This was a rare moment when a picture book transported me back to my own childhood. My fingers tingled as I opened the real letters back and forth from little Lucy to Santa, and then to Mom. At the last exchange, I did not hold back my tears. I sighed and smiled at the power a picture book can have to encompass so much heart and truth and share it with its young readers in a way that can only leave you a better person.
This is a message for all, from atheists to humanists, and priests and Imams and all their kids. I also have such a love of epistolary picture books, and this brought out all those feels for me. It is an utter gem and illustrator packs all the heart of the text into the evolving emotions of Lucy as she matures.
The final letter from Mom to an older Lucy is long and heartfelt, and us a true copy of the letter author Martha Brockenbrough wrote to her daughter Lucy in 2009 when she was confronted with the same question.
Truth+magic+heart = Christmas
This should be on every family’s shelves ready to pull out when a child starts to seriously question Santa Claus, or for kids from other faiths to embrace the universality of the Christmas message.
This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.