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Book Reviews

When Santa Was a Baby

by Linda Bailey; Geneviève Godbout (illus.)

Just in time for Christmas comes a new picture book from acclaimed author Linda Bailey and illustrator Geneviève Godbout. When Santa Was a Baby is an origin story of adorable proportions.

When Santa Was a Baby Linda Bailey Genevieve GodboutBailey relies on her readers’ knowledge of Santa Claus in showing that the traits commonly associated with everyone’s favourite gift giver presented themselves at a very young age. In Bailey’s telling, Santa always liked the colour red (he rejects the blue pajamas from his Aunt Mabel), was always generous with friends (giving away his presents), and dreamed of flying a sled with a team of reindeer (pet hamsters help illustrate this desire). Little Santa preferred the cold to warmth, showed an odd interest in the family home’s chimney, and had a small best friend named Eldred, who “loved green almost as much as Santa loved red.” And, in case you were wondering, that trademark “ho ho ho” was the very first sound Baby Santa ever made.

The charm of Bailey’s story is amplified by Godbout’s striking visuals, which bring to mind those of Raymond Briggs’s classic picture book, The Snowman. Warmth and softness abound, with each character sporting rosy round cheeks and button-black eyes. The art evokes a vintage style that further strengthens and supports the book’s nostalgic appeal.

When Santa Was a Baby will make a wonderful addition to any holiday-book collection. Sure to spread joy to readers of all ages year after year, much like the jolly old man in red himself.