"The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise." - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Review: Santa's Secret

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house . . .’ Oops, no let me start again.

‘On Christmas Eve, all through the night, 
Santa works till morning light.

Then he steps from his sleigh
and falls asleep all Christmas Day.

But when he wakes the time is right
for Santa’s secret winter flight.’


And so begins Mike Dumbleton and Tom Jellettt’s cheeky Boxing Day rhyming story about Santa. In this story, Santa travels every year to Australia to surf. Upon returning to the shore, Santa has a surprise for one of the children who was watching him surf.

I was hooked. I just had to add this book to my Christmas Book Collection.

Recently my mother gave me a mission to find her Japanese exchange student an Australian Christmas Story. There are soooo many to choose from and I thought I would to get something like The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas by Colin Buchanan and Glen Singleton or An Aussie Day Before Christmas by Kilmeny Niland or even A Bush Christmas by C J Dennis and Dee Huxley.

Nope. My choice was Santa’s Secret with all its Aussie cultural references.

Dumbleton’s story has a wonderful sound as it is read aloud and he captures the cheeky essence of Australia within the text.

There's humour - when Santa sheds his Santa Suit ‘…revealing quite a hairy chest!’ and his ‘…winter jocks!’ There's Aussie slang - G’day, no worries, fair go, and you little beauty. There's surfing - Santa can cutback and tube ride. He does not execute any flips or catch air but he can ride his board all the way back to the shore.

Then there's the outfit - Santa dons a pair of board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, with pineapples on a bright orange back ground. Incidentally this is also the design of the endpapers. And the holiday house – Santa’s beach shack is in a caravan park. He has named his shack ‘NorthPole’. Its landscaping includes a kettle BBQ, a wooden spiral mobile and two tyre swan pot plants flanking the steps to the veranda.

Jellett’s illustrations just keep adding to the story. He reveals Australia’s beach culture and some very kitsch Australian images into the illustrations.

Teacher’s Notes are available.

- this review by Leanne Barrett

Title: Santa’s Secret
Author: Mike Dumbleton
Illustrator: Tom Jellett
Publisher: Random House $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2012
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781742752396
For ages: 4 - 7
Type: Picture Book


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