From School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Barrett explains Santa's origins in the form of a personal memoir, complete with appealing scrapbook-style "photo" layouts. It's no surprise that Santa was jolly from birth, always loved cookies, and uttered "ho, ho, ho" as his first words. But who knew that his dad made toys in a basement workshop and that the annual toy distribution was a way to declutter the house? Actually, Santa's life was more normal than one might guess. He played baseball, joined a rock band, held various part-time jobs, learned to drive, and even attended the high school prom. It was in college, where he met the future Mrs. Claus, as well as his future employees, the elves, that his career destiny solidified. His thriving enterprise continues to this day, and, though he's a bit older and rounder, he keeps up with the trends. Kids needn't fear any missed deliveries because Santa's sleigh is now jet-propelled and equipped with a GPS! Clever and original, the story is made even more appealing by the dynamic acrylic paintings. Hawkes is a master of at rendering expressive faces and humorous details. A surefire hit for holiday storytimes.-Linda Israelson, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Sure, Santa lives at the North Pole now, but he has to come from somewhere, right? And he does. According to the powerhouse team of Barrett and Hawkes, he is Cincinnati born and bred, and the signs pointing to his bright future were always there. Told from Santa’s point of view, this recounts his birth on December 25th (he is the only baby in the nursery wearing a pointy red cap); talks about his early jovial disposition diagnosis; discusses his cotton-ball beard; and describes his dad, who made toys in the basement. The story continues on from there, as Santa’s toys overflow his bedroom and are subsequently given away to neighborhood children. Santa heads off to a very special kind of college, before settling down with Mrs. Claus. Barrett hasn’t left any stone unturned in imagining Santa’s childhood days, and the first-person narration gives the whole thing a tongue-in-cheek vibe. Obviously, Hawkes had so much to play with here, and he extends the fun at all times. There’s the Polaroid snapshots of would-be Santa trying to pursue other interests and joining a rock band called Santa and His Reindeer and others depicting Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ rejected potential homes (one is captioned Lighthouse. Not righthouse). Kids are going to want to add this one to their Christmas lists. Grades K-3. --Ann Kelley