Santa Needs a Hitch! Oh, What a Christmas! by Michael Garland
"HO HO, SLOW!" SANTA HOWLED RIGHT BEFORE HE CRASHED KABLAMM! INTO THE SIDE OF A BARN.
...THE BARN DOOR CREAKED OPEN AND A SLEEPY SHEEP PEEPED OUT.
"HO HO ....OH! ... HELLO!" SAID SANTA.
It's Christmas Eve and Santa's sleigh is on its way, when a harness malfunction sends the reindeer flying over the horizon and Santa careening down into a darkened barnyard. Our saint is fortunately unscathed, but Santa is definitely in need of a stand-in team to hitch up if he's going to deliver all his toys around the world.
It's motley group which ambles sleepily out of the barn, blinking in disbelief at the sight of a red-clad portly gentleman surrounded by spilled packages scattered all around in the snow.
"WELL, THIS IS A FINE MESS! THOSE REINDEER MUST BE HALFWAY ACROSS THE WORLD BY NOW!"
But Santa is nothing if not dedicated, and he quickly determines to improvise with what he's got in the way of draft animals before him--a couple of sheep, a pair of cows, a goat, a pig, a horse, and one very old dog. Lining them up in pairs, he re-fashions his torn-up traces and hitches his new helpers to the uprighted sleigh. A quick reloading and the unusual team is ready for the adventure of their lives. Santa issues the familiar call with just a slight change of nomenclature:
"NOW SHEEP! NOW GOAT! NOW PIGGY AND COWS!
ON HORSEY, ON DOGGIE!
OH, WHAT A CHRISTMAS FLIGHT WE HAVE NOW!"
And when Santa completes his whirl around the world and brings his team back to their barn, he finds his reindeer waiting and the stand-ins find their barn lighted up by a candy-decorated tree with lots of presents, all ready for their Christmas morning.
Michael Garland's Oh, What a Christmas! (Scholastic, 2011) arrives just in time for the holiday season, and although the theme of Santa's impromptu helpers is a well-used one, his jolly illustrations make this new Santa story a welcome and timely new tale for 2011 storytimes. Publisher's Weekly agrees, saying, "Garland’s coyly expressive, digital cartoon animals pop off the page in this funny holiday adventure."
Pair this one with Rob Scotton's Russell's Christmas Magic, (see my earlier review here) for a duet of Christmas Eve delivery delights.