Little Red Sleigh by Erin Guendelsberger

Little Red Sleigh by Erin Guendelsberger
Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Holiday, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The Little Red Sleigh has one big dream―to one day become Santa’s big red sleigh! But all her life, she’s been told she’s too small, she’s too young, she can’t fly, and she certainly can’t meet Santa. Well, this Christmas, with the help of some friends, she’s determined to do the impossible. Little Red Sleigh is a heartwarming children’s Christmas book you’ll want to read again and again. Full of winter joy and Christmas magic, this Christmas book for kids will remind you that no dream is out of reach if you believe.

Some Christmas wishes require a lot of hard work to come true.

As soon as I met Little Red Sleigh, I immediately liked her spunky and optimistic personality. She knew exactly what she wanted out of life, and she wasn’t afraid to chase her dreams no matter what she had to do. Her perseverance was impressive. What a wonderful role model she was for kids and adults alike!

I would have preferred to see more time spent on world building. Sleds and trucks seem to be living creatures in this world, but the narrator didn’t dig too deeply into why some inanimate objects are like this and how they grow and change over their lifetimes. This was such an important part of the plot that I would have loved to learn more about it. The storyline was fun as it was written, but I still walked away from it with some unanswered questions about how it all worked that would have propelled this tale into five star territory.

With that being said, I loved the messages about taking small steps towards a goal and never giving up no matter what happens. It’s so much easier to gradually learn new skills or make little changes in behavior than it is to try to do everything at once. This is equally true for young children, so it was delightful to see the process of achieving big dreams being broken down into such age-appropriate language for little ones.

Little Red Sleigh was a heartwarming and encouraging Christmas read.

The Holiday Heroes Save Christmas by Adam Wallace

The Holiday Heroes Save Christmas by Adam Wallace
Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

This just in―breaking news from the North Pole!

Santa Claus can’t deliver presents on Christmas Eve and he needs backup. But not just anybody can help him―he needs the Holiday Heroes!

This Christmas, it’s up to the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, a Witch and a Leprechaun to fill in for Santa and save Christmas.
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Can the Holiday Heroes deliver presents without being spotted? Will they be able to pull off Christmas in the end?

Everyone needs to take a sick day eventually!

My favorite part of this picture book were the profiles that were included about Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, a leprechaun, and a witch. These profiles gave the audience so much information about all five of these classic fantasy characters, including some facts about their lives that were downright funny. It was nice to have these glimpses of who these individuals were, especially when it came to the portions of their lives that weren’t necessarily part of the traditional canons about them.

I would have liked to see more time spent on plot and character development. The blurb and first scene of this tale were filled with so much promise, so I was disappointed with how quickly some of the most exciting plot twists were either not shown or mentioned only in passing. This was a fabulous idea that could have been expanded upon so much more than it was.

While this wasn’t specifically about Covid-19, the thought of Santa needing help delivering presents due to being sick and in quarantine is certainly timely this holiday season. I appreciated the way the narrator explained this turn of events in ways that were honest about his illness but still reassuring for young readers. It was also interesting to see how this concept was addressed again in the final scene. There was certainly room for a sequel, but it also felt nice to have a resolution to this problem.

The Holiday Heroes Save Christmas should be read by anyone who has a vivid imagination and loves Christmas.

Dear Santa by Susanna Leonard Hill

Dear Santa by Susanna Leonard Hill
For Everyone Who Believes in the Magic of Christmas

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday
Length: Short Story (40 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When Ms. Holly asks the class to write their letters to Santa, Parker gets nervous. He has done some things this year that might put him on the naughty list. Like feeding Brussels sprouts to his dog and staying up past his bedtime! Should he gloss over his mistakes like his classmates, or take responsibility for his actions? Deciding that honesty is the best policy, and hoping that Santa understands, Parker hands in his letter and hopes for the best.
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Christmas morning arrives and Parker finds a big surprise under the tree ― PLUS a letter from Santa!

Everyone knows that Santa brings presents to good children. What might he bring to someone who didn’t exactly have a perfect year?

Parker was such a honest kid. As soon as he admitted that he hadn’t been good all year long, I knew I wanted to learn more about him. The fact that he owned up to his faults only made me like him more than I did when I first met him. It takes a lot of courage to do that, especially for someone as young as him.

The stuff that Parker regretted was wonderfully ordinary. While I can’t go into specifics in this review without wandering into spoiler territory, they were all things that a lot of kids his age struggle with. This is something I would have been so relieved and happy to experience because of that. The things he struggled with made him feel like a real person to me.

If there were one thing I loved more than Parker’s confession, it would be the message of this story in general. It was brimming with kindness for every single character in it. That’s something I relish finding everything I read, but it’s especially nice to discover it in tales written for young readers. Knowing how it all ends only makes me more eager to start again at the beginning when the main character tries to figure out how to word his letter to Santa without bending the truth.

Dear Santa was a heartwarming picture book that I can’t recommend highly enough.