Santa and Pete: A Novel of Christmas Present and Past

Santa and Pete: A Novel of Christmas Present and Past

by Christopher Moore, Pamela Johnson
     
 

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Who would ever guess that the beloved legend of Santa Claus involves a seldom-told tale of faith and friendship between two men -- one white and one black? Long ago, Santa Claus had an African partner named Pete and together they brought the spirit of Christmas to America's first settlers. These two forever changed the way families celebrate the holiday. But through…  See more details below

Overview

Who would ever guess that the beloved legend of Santa Claus involves a seldom-told tale of faith and friendship between two men -- one white and one black? Long ago, Santa Claus had an African partner named Pete and together they brought the spirit of Christmas to America's first settlers. These two forever changed the way families celebrate the holiday. But through the years, Pete's contribution was forgotten.

Now Santa & Pete restores the legacy in delightful style and delivers an inspiring message of hope and harmony among people. The story starts with a bus driver who takes his grandson along on Saturdays as he travels a historical route in New York City. What unfolds is a series of wonderful adventures that culminate on Christmas Eve, when the bus gets stuck in a snowstorm. That's when the grandfather's running genealogy lesson, based on author Christopher Moore's own family history, arrives at its final destination: the story of Santa and Pete. A truly magical tale, Santa & Pete will take you and your family back to the heart of Christmas.

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Editorial Reviews

Essence
Destined to become a Yuletide classic.
Publishers Weekly
This heartwarming holiday story ... delivered with humor and easily assimilated historical details, is inspirational in the best sense, grounded in truths of human nature and ethical conduct. In a genre where a blatant tug on the heartstrings often takes the place of substance, this affecting and illuminating story is a standout.
Library Journal
In this biracial Christmas novel, Commissioner of New York City Landmarks Moore and Johnson, a senior editor at Essence magazine, tell the story of Pete, the long-forgotten African partner of St. Nicholas.
Kirkus Reviews
The Commissioner of New York City Landmarks (historian Moore) and a senior editor of Essence (Johnson) team up for a bi-racial Christmas story about white St. Nick and black Pete, who stand side-by-side atop Terrence's Christmas tree in Harlem. Terence, now married to Cassandra, was only seven when his silver-haired grandfather took him on as co-pilot of his city bus on its 12-mile route and related to the boy the history of various African, Indian, and Dutch landmarks, especially those—such as St. Nicholas Avenue—tied to blacks. Terence, raised in black culture with Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" playing in the background, has attended Lorraine Hansberry's 'A Raisin in the Sun.' His mother is a librarian at the Countee Cullen branch of the New York City Library. Grandfather still mourns his wife's death and doesn't attend family functions. As Terence discovers, St. Nicholas was born 1,600 years ago, while Pete, born a slave in Spain under the Moors, was a kind of all-purpose genius who earned his freedom at 18, went through various occupations and studies in Seville, and (during the Inquisition) fell in with St. Nick—who had been imprisoned as a spy. Pete, his jailer, helped him escape and joined him as an equal partner, eventually coming to New Amsterdam. Now Pete's genius is put to good purpose in helping Nick provide gifts to the needy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684854953
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
11/12/1998
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.39(w) x 7.34(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
6 - 16 Years

Read an Excerpt

"Your father and I want you to get to know him better. He is your only living grandparent," she explained as she surveyed the chaos with her arms folded across her chest. Clearly, my room was nowhere near as clean as I'd claimed when I'd talked her into letting me play outside for an extra half hour. Though still in her twenties, my mother wore her long black hair in a bun, and her cateye glasses low on her button nose. She worked as a librarian at the Countee Cullen branch of the New York Public Library. That, her way with crossword puzzles, and her huge vocabulary had me convinced that she was the smartest person on the planet.

"What more do I need to know about him?" I asked her, trying to kick a couple of toys under the bed with the back of my heel. I had zero interest in their babysitting plan, figuring my grandfather didn't know a thing about boys my age. Not that he was a mean man. In fact, people throughout the neighborhood praised his kindness and his willingness to lend a hand. He often showed up at a new neighbor's home with his toolbox, helping to transform many a dilapidated brownstone into an urban palace. But to spend every Saturday with him? Since church took up most of Sunday, I wouldn't have enough time over the weekend to play with my friends!

I hadn't spent much time alone with my grandfather, though he and my grandmother had visited our home often when I was younger. They brought a lot of laughter with them, although they sometimes joked that they had to "hold hands to keep from fighting." My grandmother died when I was five, and a sadness rushed in and claimed my grandfather. Without laughter, his towering stature intimidated me and his thunderous voice made me quake.

"There's plenty you don't know about him," my mother told me, watching my crafty footwork without comment. "And some things I'm sure he'd like to know about you. So if it's okay with you, then, you'll ride with him tomorrow."

I sat there stumped for a moment. I wanted to tell her that my friend Basil and I were supposed to fly kites the next day. Or maybe I could tell her that I had a stomachache that I was certain would stretch well into the next week. Or I could just tell her the truth: that my grandfather made me nervous.

"Just don't tell him about my room," I yelled out as her shoes clicked against the hardwood floor all the way down the hall.

"Then clean it up," she yelled back laughing.


The next morning, as my parents fixed breakfast, I eavesdropped on their conversation from my favorite hiding place under the stairwell. It was the cubbyhole where I kept my marbles and my Broadway program from A Raisin in the Sun. I liked to sit there, listen in, and pick up good gossip -- although I was often at a loss to make any sense of it.

This particular morning, however, as my father scraped butter across a slice of toast and Miles Davis's "Sketches of Spain" played in the background, I learned two things. First, our roof needed to be replaced, and second, my parents' decision to match up my grandfather and me was more for his benefit than for mine. As I listened, they went on about my grandmother's passing, and my grandfather's lingering grief

"All he does is work," my mother said. "He didn't even come to Thanksgiving dinner because he volunteered to cover someone else's shift. It's like he's avoiding the holidays and family altogether." Still shaken by her mother's death, she seemed worried that she was losing her father, too.

I heard the spatula tapping the plates and imagined them loaded with bacon, eggs, and toast. When hunger finally snared me into the kitchen from my perch, my parents both looked at me silently, then each of them tripped over the other asking me if I was excited about spending the day with my grandfather.

What could I say after everything I'd heard? I wasn't thrilled. But my grandfather needed me -- and I needed a few things from Santa. With Christmas only four weeks away, this was no time to mess up.

Copyright © 1998 by Christopher Moore and Pamela Johnson
Illustrations © 1998 by Julie Scott

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Meet the Author

Christopher Moore is the bestselling author of You Suck, A Dirty Job, The Stupidest Angel, Fluke, Lamb, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Bloodsucking Fiends, and Practical Demonkeeping. Visit the

official Christopher Moore website at www.chrismoore.com.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Hawaii and San Francisco, California
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1958
Place of Birth:
Toledo, Ohio
Website:
http://www.chrismoore.com

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