cover image The Real Santa

The Real Santa

Nancy Redd, illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Random House, $17.99 (32p) ISBN

Christmas preparations are underway for a Black child and their family, with a variety of Black Santas at the center, his visage “sitting on our Christmas tree, smiling on our gift wrap, and stitched on to my sweater”; a collection of brown-skinned Santa figurines also graces the fireplace mantle. As the pajama-clad family readies for Christmas Eve and reads together—canny readers will recognize the cover of the author’s previous work—the excited protagonist grows increasingly curious about Santa’s appearance. Determined to catch a glimpse, the child sneaks back downstairs, but falls asleep under the tree, only to be carried to bed by a Santa who “looks just like I hoped he would—// Santa looks just like me.” Redd’s representation of a Black family during the holidays radiates pride in self-identity, while Barlow’s cozy mixed-media illustrations conjure the wonder of the season in this welcome, resonant tale. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)