Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sad Santa: When Santa Lost His Ho! Ho! Ho! by Laura Rader

Christmas was just a few days away. The North Pole was buzzing with activity. The reindeer were practicing their take offs, and the elves were putting the finishing touches on the toys--with lots of help from Mrs. Claus.

But something wasn't quite right. Something was missing.

Santa was quiet.

"Have you lost something, sir?" asked an elf.

"You could say that," said Santa. I think that I have lost my laugh."

This is serious! Christmas without its right jolly old elf just won't be the same! The doctor prescribes funny movies and lots of jokes, but they only produce a weak "Ha ha," instead of Santa's booming "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

The word spreads like wildfire around the world, and soon an avalanche of mail is pouring into the North Pole. Confronting all the condolence letters from the children of the earth just makes Santa more tired and more cranky, so Mrs. Claus sends him off for a nap while she and the elves wade into the daunting stack of mail.

Then Mrs. Claus opens a letter from a girl named Holly, and as she reads, she begins to chuckle and then to giggle, and then to roar with uncontrollable laughter. "I have an idea," she says, wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes.

And when Santa awakes, she sends him off to his workshop to look at his mail, with Holly's note right on top of the stack. Mrs. Claus and the elves hold their breath while they wait. "I don't hear anything," Mrs. Claus tsks. "It's not working!" moans the postmaster elf.

And then came a distant chuckle...and finally...a mighty, booming, very familiar, and oh, so jolly...Ho! Ho! Ho! HO! HO! HO!"

Holly's bad-day self portrait has done the trick. It seems Christmas will be merry after all, as a huge headline and Holly's letter make the front page of The Daily News:


Dear Santa,

Sometimes I have a bad day. I'm crabby. I can't laugh then! I look very silly. Here's what I look like then. I drew it for you. I hope it make you laugh!

Merry Christmas,
Love, Holly

Laura Rader's new-for-the-season When Santa Lost His Ho! Ho! Ho! is a fresh and jolly reworking of the plot of Phyllis McGinley's classic rhyming tale of The Year Without a Santa Claus. Rader's last page features Holly's hilarious self-portrait, while her clever endpapers feature unopened letters to Santa in the front of the book and the same kids' letters opened at the back of the book. Charming illustrations and a nice message about bad moods and the power of shared laughter make this story a welcome holiday treat.

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