Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hai-Cool! Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka

Santa is a man of many talents--toy maker, reindeer trainer, sleigh pilot, world traveler. But did you know that he is also a poet?

Years ago, Mrs. Claus gave him a book of haiku. Santa loved these poems. He was inspired to write his own.

There are thousands of Santa stories, but not very much in the way of Santa poetry, except, of course, for that long poem about his famous visit to a house with the insomniac dad which launched St. Nick's celebrity.

But this one is rare--not written in quaint iambs, but in Santa's favorite poetic form, if we are to believe Bob Raczka, whose new holiday book,
Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole (Carolrhoda Picture Books) (Junior Library Guild Selection) (CarolRhoda Books, 2014) ascribes an advent assortment of twenty-five haiku from Santa's own typewriter. Here's poet St. Nicholas-san, reflecting upon the first day of the Christmas rush:

December 1:
The wishes blow in
from my over-filled mailbox.
December's first storm.

Raczka's haiku vary as the days get over toward the big day, sometimes sweet and nostalgic, sometimes with quite poetic imagery, and one with self-deprecatory humor as Santa struggles to button up his too-tight red tunic.

December 3:
Mrs. Claus makes a snow
angel and becomes a
little girl again.

December 4:
Sprinkling sand on my
snow-covered steps, thinking
of nutmeg on eggnog.

December 24:
Which is packed tighter,
the sack full of toys or the
red suit full of me?

Raczka ghost-writes Santa's Japanese haiku with elan and his collaborator, artist Chuck Groenink, gives them a perfect setting in his warm and humorous, but amazingly striking illustrations in mixed media, showing both folksy-cozy indoor scenes of the Claus cottage and lovely snowscapes alive with beauty. Published in a snow storm of rave reviews. this one may become a new classic, perfect for reading an entry each night of the days of Christmas to come. "A rare treat," says Kirkus Reviews.

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