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Book Cover

In a quaint, unnamed village town,there’s an orphanage where every child is happy and well cared for. The entire village chips in each year for a beautiful, festive Christmas celebration in which every child gets the opportunity to pick out a present from a large pile. Lucas Astan, the youngest, chooses the smallest gift: a beautiful, miniature wooden sleigh, which he loves. Late in the evening, a very tall man drops a sad young girl off at the orphanage. In an effort to make her feel welcome, Lucas decides to give her his precious sleigh. This moment serves as the catalyst for the rest of the boy’s notable life. Soon, the Spirit of Giving appears to him and praises his kindness, promising to make his wishes come true. She magically brings Lucas to a wintry place: the North Pole. Young readers will quickly understand that Lucas’ reward is to become Santa Claus. The Spirit intriguingly explains that a large storm of stardust and snowflakes created the omniscient elves who inhabit the North Pole. It turns out that the elves created the Naughty and Nice lists, which is an offbeat spin on the traditional Santa tale; so, too, is the fact that Santa’s sleigh is a life-size version of the one that Lucas gave away. The skillfully executed, full-color painterly illustrations are quite realistic, featuring characters with a range of skin tones; Lucas is depicted with pale skin. Confusingly, though, on one two-page spread, the characters’ faces look morose while the text describes a festive atmosphere.

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