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santaKid    by James Patterson order for
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Patterson, popular author of the Alex Cross chillers (and quite a few other novels), brings us a picture book that his legion of existing fans, and many new ones, are sure to turn into an instant holiday classic ... santaKid. Accompanying the text are gorgeous illustrations by Michael Garland (they look like they could be taken from the holiday animation that's sure to be made from this engaging story.)

The narrator's name is Chrissie and she's a very lucky little girl, since she lives at the North Pole. Santa's her dad! He's actually a pretty regular guy for most of the year, only growing the beard and stuffing the suit for the holidays. Chrissie gets to play in the Toy Workshop, and 'hang out' with her best reindeer friend, top-hatted Rhymer, and with Ooff, 'the six-foot-eleven-inch Elf'. Like any other kid, Chrissie has lots of questions about Christmas. What does her dad say? 'Chrissie, you have to believe.'

Then comes disaster in the form of a corporate takeover. Oh no ... the 'Exmas Express Company' buys Christmas, led by their 'Big Boss', the not-at-all-nice Warrie Ransom, and they take over the North Pole '24-7'. They make toys like 'Princess PeePee and PooPoo', even some that are designed to fall apart. Santa sinks into depression, and toy making is soon way, way behind schedule. Someone must save the day! Of course, young Chrissie - who still believes in something bigger than herself - finds a way to rescue the holiday.

In santaKid, James Patterson does as good a job of connecting to young readers as he does to their elders with his everyman hero Alex Cross. Chrissie speaks up for all children when she tells us 'Kids are small, but kids are smart', and she's an endearing smart-aleck too as she spins a story of her deeds back at a festive reunion with family and elves. Read santaKid with your own family this holiday season, and don't forget Chrissie's message ... 'kids are the ones who know how to believe.'

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