Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here Comes Auntie Claus

Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing several new holiday books — and maybe a few from years past. Its easy to get carried away with new books, so sometimes we need to remind ourselves of some good ones we may not have looked at in awhile.

"Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays"
By Elise Primavera
For ages 4 – 10

I am a big fan of Elise Primavera’s work. My family reads both “Auntie Claus” and “Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas” over and over during the Christmas holidays. Both books are a little long, but the stories move along pretty well and the illustrations are wonderfully detailed. So we never seem to mind the length. When we spotted “Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays” on our local bookstore’s shelf we sat right down and began reading.

In the newest tale Auntie Claus decides to stay home for the holidays. She wants Christmas in New York — the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, the 57th Street Snowflake, and The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. “Red will be the new black,” is Auntie Claus’ battle cry for the season. The North Pole must be moved to New York City, because how would Santa function without his sister? Chris and Sophie Kringle, the young stars of the two previous Auntie Claus tales, find everything very exciting. Then things begin to get a little too wintry.

The Auntie Claus books always have a morality story built into the tale. This one is no different. Sophie struggles with doing the right thing when the Sugar Plum Fairy needs to borrow a tutu for her performance in The Nutcracker. If Sophie gives up her tutu how will she be able to perform like the Sugar Plum Fairy in her own performance? The struggle is okay, but not as compelling an adventure as we have come to expect from Primavera.

I hate to say this, but it all gets a little too long. The illustrations are wonderful, vibrant and very Christmasy, but at a very full 40 pages, “Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays” need s more than visual stimulation to keep readers’ interest. Case in point, although I still enjoyed the new adventure, after about 30 pages it was obvious my kids’ interests were waning. We made it though and they said they loved it, so we will still round out our collection. However, I don’t foresee us reading “Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays” nearly as often, this holiday season, as the first two Auntie Claus tales.

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