"I'm not Santa!" New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
Appetizer: On Christmas Eve, Baby Owl goes out sledding and Baby Hare mistakes the owl for Santa. No matter what Baby Owl says, the Hare is still convinced the owl is Santa.
This is a good holiday read. Author and illustrator Jonathan Allen does an excellent job of capturing a childlike voice for Baby Owl and Baby Hare. This voice goes beyond just vocabulary choices, but also applies to the undying faith in Santa, the confusion over multiple Santas existing and the fact that young ones often feel like adults don't hear or believe what they say. There were a few places where the language could been more sparse. But since "I'm not Santa!" will most likely be read aloud by adults or older siblings, this isn't too much of a concern.
The illustrations are equally fun and childlike (although the picture book could have withstood having some more variations among the backgrounds and details of the illustrations).
I do have a question for you though, internets. Or, more so, it's a question for Jonathan Allen and his editor. Why did they decide to have "I'm not Santa" in quotes for the title of the picture book? Not all of the story is in Baby Owl's voice, so I wouldn't see the need to have his voice in the title. Is this some type of encouragement to have wee little children march around yelling "I'm not Santa!" over and over again? Would the title Baby Owl is not Santa! crush too many people's dreams of having a bird-shaped Santa? I don't understand.
Internets, you must track down Jonathan Allen or someone at Hyperion to explain it to me. Please.
"It was Christmas Eve, and Baby Owl had been out in the snowy woods, playing with his sled."
"I'm not Santa!" said Baby Owl. "Don't be so silly!"
"But you are Santa!" insisted Baby Hare. "You're wearing a red hat with fur on it. Santa wears a hat like that."
To Go with the Meal:
A fun holiday read aloud, this picture book is particularly good to use on Christmas Eve since that's the night the book is set--and even ends with Owl listening to a book read aloud and then going to bed.
To encourage participation, a teacher could have students shout-out the repeated "I'm not Santa!" when it comes up on many pages.
This book could also help for when a young child becomes confused as to who they're seeing multiple Santas around town. A teacher can discuss how sometimes people just look like Santa or or helping out.
There is also a teaching moment a teacher can take advantage of in "I'm not Santa!" At one point the Baby Hare argues that the owl must be Santa because he is "big and fat like Santa." While this is funny and cute in context, a teacher may want to remind students to choose words carefully and that words like "fat" can hurt.
Tasty Rating: !!!