cover image Santa Baby

Santa Baby

Jonathan Stutzman, illus. by Heather Fox. Holt, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-25561-7

In this sprightly caper, Santa is feeling no holiday spirit and his body aches (“Ho, Ho, Oww”), so he summons the “magic of Christmas” to make him young again. When he morphs from an old man into a baby, the elves frantically test his Santa skills, and he fails miserably—and comically. He refuses to pop down chimneys, opens rather than delivers packages, and chews his list, twice. But thinking of the children he’ll disappoint if he doesn’t make his Christmas Eve rounds, he dons his “big-boy cap,” climbs into his “safety-approved sleigh-seat” and takes off. After stumbling, he “hurried down the chimney in fright” (a riff on the 1950s song with which this volume shares a name), but encounters a girl whose kindness rekindles the “beauty and wonder of Christmas” and he’s restored to his jolly old self. The developmental logic is iffy—how does Santa Baby understand the global stakes when he can’t even say “Ho Ho Ho”?—but Fox’s bustling digital cartoons and the elves’ attempts to communicate with their blathering infant boss amplify the tale’s blithe humor. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)