How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When Santa arrives at a child’s house on Christmas Eve, does he go down the chimney feetfirst or headfirst? What if he gets stuck? What if there’s no chimney? Maybe he slides under the door, as thin as a piece of paper? Or is it possible he pours himself through the faucet? What happens once he’s inside? Whether it’s shape-shifting or impromptu laundry use, Mac Barnett’s iconic talent for earnest deadpan humor and Jon Klassen’s irresistibly funny art honor the timeless question with answers both ridiculous and plausible, mounting in hilarity as the night continues. Channeling a child’s fanciful explanations (and begging for further speculation), this latest collaboration by a New York Times best-selling team will find a secure spot among family holiday traditions.

A little magic is all Santa needs.

The creativity of this tale made me chuckle. I laughed out loud at an early scene showing the reindeer gently lowering Santa into a chimney head first, and the answers to this riddle only grew wilder from there. They reminded me of the way small children think about the world and how they can sometimes expect large things like a person to magically fit into small spaces with a little effort. It was delightful that the authors were able to tap into this portion of childhood and really dig deeply into the wacky side of how Christmas Eve visits from a magical elf might work.

As amused as I was by the premise, I would have liked to see a bit more character and plot development. Almost all of the pages were dedicated to coming up with all sorts of ways that Santa may enter homes even if there’s no chimney to climb down. I kept expecting the narrator to eventually share a solution that seemed more likely than the rest, and I was a little disappointed when that never happened.

With that being said, I did appreciate how the author wrote this to appeal to all sorts of children. Whether a little one wholeheartedly believes in Santa, is skeptical about the idea but still hopes it is true, or doesn’t believe at all, there were scenes in here to amuse a wide variety of audiences. I should note that this could easily prompt kids to discuss their differing beliefs about Santa if this is read in a mixed group of opinions, but I think that can be a good thing for everyone involved if handled well. Differences should be celebrated, not ignored!

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? was a cute and cheeky read.

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