Thompson, Lauren and illustrated by Jon Muth. The Christmas Magic.
Thirty second summary: As the days until Christmas grow shorter, Santa prepares for the coming of the Christmas magic which will allow his reindeer to fly.
Friends, it’s time for one of our Scholastic Christmas Book Contest reviews! Remember, for every comment on one of these reviews, you'll be entered into a drawing to win copies of both Christmas books! So comment, readers. You know you want to.
The Christmas Magic is a delightful holiday book, featuring a somewhat nontraditional (or perhaps simply European) Santa. Sporting a reasonably slender waistline and decked out in blue robes, he leads the reader from the first moments of the holiday right up to the moment the sleigh hits the atmosphere. By the time the book ends, you'll be so ready for Christmas that you'll practically be able to smell the pine trees. Or maybe that's just the new book smell. (Mmm, new book smell. Other than chocolate and roller skates, I'm pretty sure there's not anything I love more.)
Mrs. Claus and the elves are noticeably absent from this story. Instead, Santa wanders around his house in his bunny slippers, darning his own socks by the fire and packing the giant bag of Christmas gifts by himself. It’s a strangely lonely existence, and in my opinion a little sad, but he seems content enough. (One wonders, though -- What does he do the rest of the year, when the reindeer are out in the fields and the sleigh is in the barn? Does he make toys with no one but the cat for company? Does he go for long walks and daydream about Christmases past? Am I thinking too much about this?)
The illustrations are simple and whimsical, and go wonderfully with Thompson's writing. Santa is one hundred percent perfect, and children will love the scenes of him feeding parsnips to his reindeer, and allowing his cat to climb on his shoulder and play with his mustache. Muth is one of my favorite illustrators -- and as a fun nod to the readers, if you look closely in one of the scenes, you'll see the somewhat awkward panda from his Zen books making a guest appearance.
Now, I’m the kind of person who will love a book based solely on its illustrations, and I didn’t think this was fair to the author. So I called in backup. Yes, that’s right. I handed The Christmas Magic to my mother and had her read it out loud to me.
“Oh, I like this book. This is a good book.”
So there you have it, friends. Kid tested. Mother approved.
Quotes of note:
“The reindeer raise their heads when they hear the music of the bells: Is the magic here?”
“’No, not yet,’ Santa tells them. ‘It’s not here yet.’”
“Then this deep winter’s night, the stars begin to shine more brightly than ever. They fill the dark night with their flaming light.”
Tasty Rating: !!!!