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Friday 16 December 2011

Reverse Santa Claus by Dennis Canfield

With such a wonderful book cover, I had an inkling this was going to be a little treat.  Or rather, it was little - a (short) story, but actually a huge treat – it was delightful, entertaining and pure joy.  The little penguin in the design is quite pertinent.  Without too much disclosure, all I’ll say is that penguins are more versatile than you think…..

Job losses aren’t just the scourge of the 21st century it seems – even 500-year-young Santa elves get nervous when their job as Head Labelling Elf is under threat.  Marmel is responsible for reading Naughty Reports to recommend to Santa who should go on the naughty list, but it seems people are simply being too good.  Surely naughtiness isn’t going out of fashion?  Poor Marmel is a very, very worried little elf until Santa finally gives him a job to do – a commission to sort out the Richards family and save them from a lifetime of coal in their Christmas stockings.

The Richards family are comfortably off with all the trappings of an upper middle-class family.  David and Susan’s children, Amanda and Patrick, probably never having known any different, are poised to believe that mobile telephones, U-Tube and takeaways are the norm.  How could life be remotely functional without these things?

It’s up to Reverse Santa Claus to see what can be done - with Marmel’s help, quite naturally - to help make them understand that life can be fun, even rewarding, without the 'everything' that money can buy.

The second of Dennis’s books I have read (I’m becoming quite a fan), this really is a warming, feel-good, seasonal tale.  Dennis has a very pleasing, straightforward, sometimes very witty style and a knack of setting the scene to perfection.  I thought he got inside a 12-year-old’s head very accurately – in fact, he portrayed all the characters, especially the Richards, so brilliantly I almost wondered if they were based on anyone he knows…….but, then, he couldn’t possibly have met Santa or one of his elves.  Surely not….

If the hustle and bustle of Christmas is wearing you out or getting you down, then let me prescribe one or two hours of sitting down with your feet up, a cup of hot cocoa and this short story.  I guarantee complete refreshment and quite possibly a smile on your face.

See also Silent Night - A Christmas Story by Dennis Canfield

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