cover image ARE YOU GRUMPY, SANTA?


Gregg Spiridellis, . . Hyperion, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-1841-9

To the titular question, the answer is yes. But, confirming what carbohydrate addicts have known all along, the Spiridellis brothers, in their children's book debut, espouse that a plate of cookies can cure even an extreme case of the grumps. Via rhyming verse and computer-generated artwork—a jarring mix of pancake-flat cartoonish characters and more dimensional backgrounds—Santa experiences a Murphy's Law day of preparations leading up to his Christmas Eve ride. Aches and pains (in one of many accidents, "he fell into the fireplace/ and sprained his/ chubby tush"), an itchy wool suit (the comfortable suit was shrunk in the dryer) and an empty belly (the garishly made-up Mrs. Claus has put him on a diet) darken Santa's mood. The tale ends with an admonition to readers: "Just be sure to leave some cookies,/ in case Santa's feeling grumpy." Ages 3-8. (Sept.)