Joyce, William. Santa Calls. New York: Laura Geringer Book, 1993.
I found this book about 4 or 5 years ago. It delighted me so much that I had to add it to my Christmas book collection. This fall when Jim and I went to the Texas Book Festival, I was excited to see that William Joyce was a featured speaker. In the children’s book tent, there was a display of his books. I managed to reign in my desire and purchase only a copy of one of his other books for myself and two copies of this book to send to my two young nephews for Christmas. I am hoping that it is a new addition to both of their book libraries and not a repeat of what I sent last year. I am going to have to start keeping a log of what I send.
Some of you may know that I started this blog as a review of the books we gave one of my nephews for his Mama’s baby shower. I bought too many books to explain to my niece at her shower how special each and every book in the collection was to us. I was so excited about all of them, I wrote her soon-to-be born son a book about all the books. That book about my nephew’s little library got me started on this blog. I try to include updates to that book for each new book that I send. Here is some of what I sent this year.
Santa Calls is a book written about a boy, who lives in Texas. Your Grandma and Grandpa and your Uncle Jim and I live in Texas and I know you visit it often. I love words, so I could not resist a book that opens with an alliteration (ask your Mom about this). Here’s the first sentence: “Art Atchinson Aimesworth was a very singular boy.” It is a book about boy, who lives in Abilene, Texas and helps his Aunt and Uncle run a Wild West Show and Animal Phantasmagoria. With these two sentences, I knew Santa Calls was a book that needed to be shared with you. It is about Art’s Extraordinary Adventure of Christmas 1908. In this exciting adventure, Art, Spaulding (his friend), and Esther (Art’s little sister) take a trip to the North Pole. They go because, “Santa Calls.”
This Extraordinary Adventure of Christmas begins just before Christmas. A mysterious box appears in front of Art’s laboratory. Did I mention that Art has many talents/hobbies? He is an inventor, adventurer, and crime fighter. Art and Spaulding systematically and scientifically attempt to open the box. Their most scientific method? Poking it with a stick. A note pops up. It reads: “Open the box. Assemble the contents. Come NORTH. Yours, S.C.” Art and Spaulding as directed, assemble and modify the contents. By Christmas Eve, they are ready to head north. Esther has been watching and helping with the preparations and she asks to go on their quest. As we learn early in the book Art has one weakness and one flaw. His weakness is his love of sweets and candy. His flaw was being mean to Esther. As you guessed, Art refuses to take her along after all she is too little to come. She of course, threatens to tell if she doesn’t get to go. Art’s reply, “You know an Aimesworth never tells.” Esther knows the truth of this so she watches sadly as they rev the engine to go. Art, however, is not heartless. At the last-minute he lets her hop in. “You won’t be sorry,” Esther says. They lift away on their northern adventure.
What an adventure it is! They meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ali Aku (Captain of the Santarian Guard), Dark Elves (trouble), and their evil Queen (even more trouble). There are battles, a kidnapping, and an amazing rescue all before Christmas Day! This book reminds me of so many other wonderful adventure stories like Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the movie Babes in Toyland, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Father Christmas Letters. It is an exciting book to read. Santa is in the book, but Art, Spaulding, and Esther have the starring roles.
I told my nephews that I loved words and language and this book is filled with wonderful little sayings mostly from Art. They remind me of old science fiction movies. I can’t call to mind which movie, but here are a couple of them for you to think about.
- By the rings of Saturn!
- To the Pole! (I wanted to add, “and beyond!” It reminded me of Buzz Light Year in Toy Story.)
- By the moons of Jupiter, this is a swell place.
- Why in the name of Neptune did you call for us?
The illustrations in the book are soft and warm, but rich with detail. While they are illustrations, they remind me of sepia photographs. They set the right mood and enhance the story at every turn of the page.
You are going to need to read the book to find out the answer to these questions. I predict you will have fun making these discoveries.
- How does Art’s one weakness and one flaw play into this story?
- Why were they called? Art imagines it to solve an arctic crime wave. Is it?
Ride along with these young people and have a magic adventure. I hope you enjoy this rollicking Christmas adventure!