The Three Wishes: A Christmas Story

Anova/Pavilion. Nov. 2020. 48p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781843653868.
K-Gr 3–In this Nordic origin story of Santa Claus, a young boy, although afraid of the dark, is tasked with caring for the family deer during the long winter nights. He loses the deer and, frightened and cold, falls asleep in the snow, only to be awakened by deer bells that lead him to an underground world of endless summer. He can never leave but is granted three wishes. He asks for freedom, happiness, and time. Eventually he is allowed to visit his family, who remain asleep during his visit. He leaves them small gifts. Year after year he returns with gifts and his family leave him things in return: warm food, a red and white fur outfit. His companions in the underworld also give him a gift: a flying sled pulled by a reindeer. Bright, detailed folk art accompanies this alternate version of gift-giving, but the cheerful intentions are often overwhelmed by the darker elements, such as separation from family and the inability to return home.
VERDICT An unusual view of St. Nick, this tale may be disturbing for young children.

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