Friday, December 04, 2020

Selfie with St. Nick? The Great Santa Stakeout by Betsy Bird

Freddy Melcher was Santa's No. 1 Fan. He dons his Santa outfit and beard for all occasions--birthday celebrations, Valentine parties, and ...even on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Freddy's got all the Santa fan gear--photos, costumes, action characters...,

... even underwear.

And of course, like most dedicated followers in fandom, Freddy longs for the ultimate get, a selfie with Santa in front of Freddy's own chimney. He's got a PLAN, a stealthy secret scheme.

With a string of cans wired to his alarm clock, a pressure-sensitive plate for cookies, and motion sensors linked to his camera, how can he miss?

But there's many an unforeseen problem when the reindeer bolt at the clatter of the cans and Santa's sleigh is up, up and away, leaving Freddy with only a note, but one with Santa'ssignature!


"But there's always next year... ," in Betsy Bird's timely update of the familiar spying-on-Santa trope in her The Great Santa Stakeout (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019). Freddy's obsessive fandom is infectious and his elaborate blueprints and contraptions for various Santa traps are illustrated with great humor by Caldecott Award artist Dan Santat, making this one worthy of the good company of all those story characters who have long sought to spot that jolly old elf, from Clement Clark Moore's classic sleeping-cap-clad dad in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Holiday Classics) to the clever kid in Jean Reagan's best-selling How to Catch Santa. Says Booklist, "Pairing this witty cat-and-mouse mini-mystery and its satisfying ending with Santat's expert use of backlighting and angular close-ups makes for a truly winning combination."

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