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The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Review by Wendy Walker

By Amelia C. Houghton
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is the story of Nicholas the orphan, who, though once nearly overcome by loneliness, learns the joy of giving sacrificially to others. By carving wood into lovely playthings for children, he finds delight in the joy he brings to villagers in his remote northern community. The story follows the lanky youth into plump adulthood, highlighting the trials that jolly Nicholas must overcome in order to fulfill his yearly goal of providing a toy for every child in the village. This story provides an imaginative explanation for many Christmas traditions. By reading the book, children will discover why Santa wears a suit of red, hear of reindeer adventures, witness Nicholas's first rooftop delivery, learn why stockings were filled, and find out why Saint Nicholas decorated a forest of trees. A few other mysteries are explored as well, like how Nicholas managed to expand his work from village to world, and why his name was changed from Nicholas the Orphan to Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus.

Yesterday's Classics reprinted this 1932 fictitious children's book as an unabridged paperback, with the original illustrations rendered in black and white. It's a fast-paced, delightful read. The writing is simple without being dumbed-down, making the book a perfect read-aloud or independent read for six- to ten-year-olds. Children will enjoy the humorous mishaps that Nicholas faces and marvel at his ingenuity as he looks for ways to overcome trials and deliver his gifts. Qualities of self-sacrifice, kindness, patience, and compassion are emphasized throughout the book. However, while Houghton creatively explains the life of Santa, parents and children should understand up front that this is purely fiction. If you're looking for the real story of Saint Nick or don't want to confuse your kids with an odd mixture of truth and fantasy, then don't look here. Also, Christ is never mentioned. While Nicholas represents a man of good values, he's certainly never presented as one motivated by a love for the Savior. Still, though The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is no history lesson, it's wholesome entertainment for young readers, and it may even inspire them to use their time more productively on behalf of others.

Product review by Wendy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009