cover image Elliot’s Arctic Surprise

Elliot’s Arctic Surprise

Catherine Barr, illus. by Francesca Chessa. Quarto/Frances Lincoln, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-84780-741-0

Barr, a former Greenpeace campaigner, delivers a message-driven, environmentally focused Christmas tale. While at the beach, a boy named Elliot finds an urgent plea for help from Santa in a bobbing bottle—the North Pole and Christmas itself are in danger. Alarmed, Elliot hitches a ride to the North Pole with an agreeable sea captain, and they are soon joined by “thousands of other little boats,” carrying children from around the world. The armada passes icebergs, polar bears, and seals before the children reach an ominous rig, belching flames and preparing to drill for oil. Their protests are lost in the wind, but Elliot finds the courage to intercept a worker, who agrees to cancel the drilling. While the environmental theme overshadows the book’s holiday elements, Chessa’s soft, childlike illustrations underscore the can-do spirit of Barr’s story. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)