cover image Christmas in July

Christmas in July

Arthur Yorinks. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020256-9

When Santa sends his pants to the cleaners, he unwittingly sets in motion a sequence of events that delays that year's yuletide. For the cleaners misdirect the familiar red trousers (``Size 67--with cuffs!''), giving them to wealthy, arrogant New Yorker Rich Rump. When Santa attempts to retrieve them he is arrested for loitering and jailed for six months, during which time ``the world was a mess.'' Yorinks's prose here seems forced, and his attempted witticisms are relentless--dependent more on adult sensibilities than children's senses of humor. (``Santa was sayonara'' and ``fresh out of the pokey'' are neither childlike nor particularly endearing.) And though Egielski's illustrations have a certain verve, this is not one of the duo's more satisfying collaborations. Underlying its polish and cleverness--and beneath its verbal and visual acrobatics--it is a mean-spirited book, lacking in substance and heart. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)