Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review: Santa Calls by William Joyce

by William Joyce
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Picture Book/Holiday
40 pages
ages 4 and up

Art Atchinson Aimesworth -- inventor, crime fighter, and allaround whiz kid-journeys north with his sister, Esther, and his pal, Spaulding, by special invitation from Santa himself. But why did Santa call? Now available in a new hardcover edition, this truly Joyce-ian crusade features villains and swashbuckling adventure, concluding with a most spectacular and touching Christmas celebration.

A holiday extravaganza like no other, by the creator of Rolie Polie Olie, Snowie Rolie, Sleepy Time Olie, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, and George Shrinks.


This isn't your cuddly, hot-chocolate-warmth, Santa tale, but rather a fast-paced, high-flying adventure with tons of wondrous Christmas magic around every bend.

Art is a boy in Texas, who is known for his adventurous spirit and talent in about everything. He has only one flaw, he likes to fight with his little sister. When the siblings and Art's best friend discover a mysterious box and find that Santa has called them to the North Pole, an action-filled adventure begins.

The tale begins with Art, a true Texas-crime fighting hero already as a boy. The description and illustrations of this tough, slightly arrogant, and very Western kid start the book off with a clash to the winter-world to come. And it grabs kids right away and jerks them to pay attention.

Slow is not a word to be found in these pages. The moment the kids get that box, it leads to a line of adventure which hits with explosion after explosion. There is mystery, thrills, magical wonder, edge-of-the-seat escapes, daring rescues, and, on top of it all, warmth. This is exactly the kind of Christmas story kids who love adventure and aren't ready to dive into snuggly emotions are going to enjoy. It makes a great read-aloud, especially for groups. However, I wouldn't recommend this for younger readers and see it more as a read for kids ages 5 to 7.

The illustrations have a very traditional feel, which wakes a nice sense of an old-fashioned Christmas. There are lovely details, and every scene brings across the emotions and adventure nicely. While lovely, the traditional style holds an interesting clash to the very fast paced and thrill-filled adventure the kids experience. It's a mixture which demands attention and works.

If you're looking for a different type of Christmas tale, which still holds on to a bit of traditional charm while packing in a fast-paced adventure to please action fans, this tale is it. Especially kids ages 5 to 7 are sure to stay attentive as this story is read-aloud to them, and they'll probably hit the playground and join in on similar adventures of their own imaginations.

All about. . .

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children's books are his true bailiwick (The Numberlys, rolie Polie Olie, dinosaur bob, George Shrings, and the #1 New York bestselling The Fantastic flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award-winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and look at upcoming work at @HeyBillJoyce on Twitter and Instagram.

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