Santa’s Gotta Go!

Nancy Paulsen/Penguin/. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593530436.
PreS-Gr 3–After seeing a story on TV about a family hanging out with Santa Claus, the Mack family decides that they want to get Santa to stay at their house for a while. Their wish is granted when Santa’s sleigh breaks down, and he has to wait three days for a replacement part to arrive. But hosting Santa is not the fun the family thought it would be: Santa eats all the food, makes noise late into the night playing music with guys from the neighborhood, and takes Mr. Mack’s motorcycle out for a drive without asking. When Santa accidentally stomps on Mabel’s new tablet, she “balled up her fists, scrunched her up her nose, and shouted: ‘Santa’s Gotta Go!!!’” Fed up, the Macks spend Santa’s last night at a hotel and are surprised by what they find when they return home. This contemporary, creative story portrays a Black Santa Claus who works out, sports tattoos, and only has a slight belly. Children will delight in many modern elements of the story, such as Santa ordering a part for his sleigh online using a laptop. Crisp illustrations transport readers into the comfortable and loving home of a young Black family and clearly convey the family’s emotions on their faces: exhaustion, annoyance, anger, surprise, and more.
VERDICT Children will love seeing an easily relatable Santa Claus and family. Pair this fun story with Billy Sharff’s When Santa Came to Stay.

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