It's Christmas Eve, and as Santa delivers presents he finds the treats that children have left for him all around the world. But as Santa keeps eating, his belt gets tighter. Will he still fit down the chimneys?
We love Christmas stories in this house especially at this time of year with the big countdown to Christmas. Reading a good Christmas story stirs up excitement and gets my 3 year old asking all sorts of questions about Santa and presents and the reindeer. This is really the first year my boy has understood what is going on with Christmas so reading these books gives him lots of excitement as he finds out how Santa flies around the world on his sleigh delivering all the presents.
We certainly see Santa fly all around the world in this book with him travelling near and far to places like Sydney, London, Paris and Rio de Janiero. It would of been nice if he made a trip to New Zealand in the story but we still talked about all the places he visited that we had not heard of before. My 3 year old found it interesting that there was snow in some of the pictures because of course in New Zealand we don't have snow at Christmas so this opened up interesting discussion about how the weather is different in different countries.
We talked about in the North Pole where Santa lives it is very cold at this time of year and that is why he sat by the fire at his home. The illustrations were beautiful and Santa and his reindeer looked so friendly and happy, so the book gave you that warm fuzzy feeling the way a good Christmas book should to spread some Christmas cheer while you read. My son loved the cover illustration with Santa stuck down the chimney and wanted to know how Santa would get out to deliver all the presents.
We laughed as we read all the food that the children left out for Santa and talked about what would happen if Santa ate all that food. We decided we would just leave something little out for Santa this year so that he can't get fat and stuck in the chimney. Poor Santa had to keep loosening his belt as his tummy grew and grew from all the food and what yummy food he was left we also talked about what food we would leave for Santa and whether we thought Santa would like that.
I thought it was very sweet how Santa shared the food not only with his reindeer but with the elves when he got back to the North Pole this reinforces nice messages about sharing and we got to see the reindeer having yummy treats although we thought it was very funny a reindeer having lemondade.
This is a great book and one we will get out every Christmas to talk about Santas journey around the world to deliver all the presents.
"Santa's Tight Squeeze" is a Christmas story which combines messages about not overeating and sharing what you have, and also includes a short geography lesson as a bonus. In fact, there is a wealth of information in a very small number of pages which means the book will be read over and over as new discoveries are made each time.
The story starts in the traditional way with children tucked up in bed and Santa getting ready to go and fill their Christmas stockings. But then it develops into a much more complicated tale as Santa travels to different places. The artwork is just lovely, and features impressions of various iconic buildings which form the background to the sleigh as it speeds from place to place.
I did find one curious omission in the text. There are nine reindeer - eight of whom are identified by name and are given a present - but the ninth (presumably Rudolph) is marginalised. He is not named and, unlike the other eight, he does not get a present although he looks on hopefully. The children I shared the story with had been enjoying it up to then, but they were quite upset to think Rudolph had been left out.
We talked about it and read through the text twice more but we still could not find any reference to poor Rudolph being given a present of his own. In the end, we decided that perhaps he got his present when the elves got theirs. We all hope so anyway - it was a worry to think he might have been left out just because he was different. Having said that, we enjoyed the story and will certainly read it many times more. I cannot think of a better way to have an impromptu Geography lesson!
Each year there are some fabulous Christmas themed books on the market through Scholastic. I always enjoy reading the modern takes on old stories and the completely new stories as well. 'Santa's Tight Squeeze' is a new story and it is available in a beautifully presented, hard covered book. My children enjoyed the front cover before we even opened the book. They talked about why Santa's boots were sticking out the chimney and if he was stuck. The children decided that he couldn't possibly be stuck forever as he still had to make his way around the world to deliver presents.
We enjoyed the way that a number of different countries were included in the story and some of them were ones that my children were not familiar with. It was a chance to explain what the Taj Mahal is and where Rio de Janeiro is. It is always fun for the children to learn new things as they enjoy a picture book together. We got out the globe from beside my son's bed and had a look at the various places on the map. We decided that Santa had a lot of places to cover in such a short time.
We had in-depth discussions about why Santa would need to loosen his belt after eating too much food. The topic of sharing treat food, rather than eating it all yourself, was also discussed as we read and reread the book. Both Mr five and Miss three were concerned as to why the other reindeer got some of the treats, whereas Rudolph didn't. They did get some comfort in the fact that he had a whole page to himself at the back of the book and that he looked rather relaxed and contented.
The illustrations are enjoyable in the book and we liked looking through them. Santa, had a nice, cute face on most of the pages. There is one illustration, however, where he looked a little weird! It was when he had goggles on and driving his sleigh. The kids picked up on that image and didn't think he looked so friendly. Luckily, he looked happy and friendly in the rest of the book and the kids soon forgot that image.
Overall, this was a lovely book to share with my children. It allowed for some more serious discussions to be had about sharing, treat food and places around the world, as well as the simple fun and magic of Christmas.
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