cover image SANTA'S KWANZAA


Garen Eileen Thomas, , illus. by Guy Francis. . Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-5166-9

Christmas and Kwanzaa are an uncomfortable fit in this ill-conceived project told in sing-songy couplets. As Santa finishes his Christmas Eve rounds, he is eager to head back to the North Pole. Once home, "Santa Kwaz" reveals a full head of white dreadlocks. A seven-day Kwanzaa celebration ensues, culminating with the group taking a reindeer-powered sleigh ride to write a message of "Happy Kwanzaa! Peaceful men/ Goodwill Toward Earth" in the night sky. Imagining Santa's life outside of Christmas is a familiar tradition; here, however, the Christmas symbolism encroaches on Kwanzaa territory—and vice-versa—and may offend some readers. In the attempt at a melange, elements of Kwanzaa get short shrift, relegated to minimal treatment on the final page. Francis's (the Adam Sharp series) smiley multicultural cast—featuring elves and a youthful Mrs. Claus clad in African inspired designs—is ready for fun. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)