Jeff Guin's written three books in the "Santa Claus Chronicles" and this one is my favorite. The first two dragged a lot for me but this one moved along at a nice smooth and steady pace.
Santa has his biggest challenge ever because of a proposed reality show called "The Great Santa Search". The owner of a local TV station is desperate to save it. He's been losing viewers because of reality shows so he teams up with (unbeknownst to him) an unscruplous toy manufacturer to produce a live contest between the 10 best Santas in the country. The Santas will compete in different activities and the audience will participate in voting for the best Santa. Sound like every reality show we've seen?
The winner will be the spokesperson for the toy company, which produces low quality products.
Santa's horrified. Children will be confused because Santa's the spokesman of one single company! They'll become disillusioned with him because the toys he sponsors break on contact. He must do something about this contest! But what?
There's a little bit of history thrown into this story--particularly, how we got to have a Santa in every store and how Santa's helpers turned out to be elves.
There was some mild suspense with Santa worming his way into the competition and a possible cheating scandal. That's all I'll say about that.
One of my objections is this: Santa keeps trying to insist that the holday is all about loving and giving and Jesus. He says when he gives gifts, children understand the spirit of generosity and giving to others. I guess I'm cynical about that. I don't think that's the Santa message at all. I think it's about presents, presents, presents.
Even when I was a little kid, I didn't learn that Santa Claus had anything to do with baby Jesus. They were two separate beings. On Christmas morning, Santa brought us lots of gifts and, oh, yes, by the way, we also went to church to celebrate the birth of a baby I never met. Okay, so that's probably a failing on my parents' part or maybe even that of my Sunday school teachers.
I didn't make any connection between Santa and Jesus or even what Christmas was really about until I was much older, a teenager, maybe. So I don't think little kids are getting a message that Santa's gifts mean that they should turn around and give gifts or celebrate Jesus' birth. Sorry, Jeff Guin.
On another note, we took Little T back to Smithville Park for another long walk. What's really nice is he loves going on these walks along the trail. He led us again and we went down part of a trail we hadn't been down before. We were all good and tired by the time we were done!