Deer Santa

Little Simon. Sept. 2021. 18p. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781534495234.
Baby-Toddler–Forest critters write letters to Santa in this novel holiday book. On each spread, double couplets accompany a Christmas-clad creature of the forest holding a pull-tab letter for Santa. Once deployed, the letters read as Christmas puns. The skunk writes: “Jingle smells! Jingle smells!” Illustrations set the tone with festive decorations, colorful presents and lights, and cheerful animal friends. The spreads encompass both verso and obverse, using the entire space adroitly for the audience. The animals take up about almost a quarter of the space, making them easily recognizable. The remainder of the scope features indoor and outdoor holiday scenes that flourish without overwhelming. In particular, the bat hanging upside-down on a string of ornaments connects the animal’s natural instincts with a relatable holiday tradition. Unfortunately, much less attention was given to the text’s readability. Uneven meters encumber almost every couplet: “I’ve been a good little mouse./I haven’t scared anyone in the house./So, please, please, please,/bring me a nice piece of cheese!” It is unlikely that this will withstand the repetitious, awkward motions of toddler hands.
VERDICT Entirely optional, especially in light of the annual deluge of other Christmas-themed books for little ones.

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