More than anything, Freddy Melcher wants to meet his idol, Santa—so he concocts a surefire plan to snag a Santa selfie “fresh out of the chimney.” Bird supplies all the elements a heist needs to succeed: obsession (“Freddy had Santa posters, Santa action figures, and Santa underwear”), elaborate plans (“Step 1... String the roof with cans, so the sleigh can’t land undetected”), and minute-by-minute reportage (“It was almost midnight”). Santat lights the story’s comic fuse with a spread of Freddy’s treasured collection of Santa toys (one action figure boasts “64 points of articulation”), provides blueprints, creates night shots with eerie blue-screen light, and supplies in-your-face close-ups of the ensuing chaos. Though it feels a tad one-note, Freddy Melcher’s feverish desire to meet his favorite celebrity makes him the kind of over-the-top comic character whose inane schemes provide laughs whether they succeed or fail—and naturally suggest further stakeout possibilities. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Praise for Dan Santat's first picture book, The Guild of Geniuses (Arthur A. Levine Books) "Santat creates a fabulous world filled with kitschy delights . . . Some will recognize elements of Maira Kalman and William Joyce's artwork, but Santat is freshly his own." Booklist "Children will chuckle over the urbane visual humor in this promising debut." Kirkus Reviews "Kitschy fifties design and appealingly drawn characters make this a promising debut from Santat . . . Readers should keep an eye on Santat's attention-getting art and sympathetic monkey hero." Publishers Weekly Praise for Dan Santat's Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Caldecott Medal Winner New York Times Bestseller #1 Indiebound Bestseller Huffington Post Best Overall Picture Book of 2014 PBS Parents Best Picture Book of the Year NPR "Great Read"ALSC Notable Book for Children A Chicago Public Library Best Picture Book of the Year "Dan Santat is one of the hardest working people in the industry today. And while his immense talent was always evident, Beekle takes his artistry to a new level. The story (which is just bursting at the seams with charm) begins on an island of colorful creatures, each waiting to be imagined by a special child and thus transported to the real world . . . As with all great books, Beekle has an air of inevitability about it. As if somewhere out there is an island of perfect stories just waiting for the right person to come along and imagine it into being. We should all be grateful that Santat, with his brilliant use of color and humor, was here to bring Beekle to life." The Huffington Post * "Santat's attention to detail in the mixed-media illustrations shares a child's eye for laughter and movement on full-bleed spreads with strategically placed text. Gazes of wonderment, broad smiles, and changes in perspective ensure an easy transition from page to page . . . Like Beekle's new friend, there's something here that feels just right as an "unimaginary" friendship creates a joyous, recognizable bond. A terrific addition to any library." School Library Journal, starred review Praise for Betsy Bird's, Giant Dance Party, illustrated by Brandon Dorman (Greenwillow Books) "The story nicely weaves together a realistic fear with fantasy elements. The characters' cheery personalities leap off the pages. Children will identify with Lexy and chuckle when they see the giants dancing . . . Bird and Dorman's efforts blend into a delightful picture book with a feel-good ending." School Library Journal "This picture book, by prominent librarian-blogger Bird, includes such irresistible ingredients as a determined young girl, furry blue giants, and lots and lots of dancing." Booklist
Gr 1–3—Santa Claus may be famous, but he is one elusive character. Freddy Melcher is his number one fan. The boy's room is decorated with Santa memorabilia, and Freddy dresses like Santa for holidays all year long. Freddy needs only one thing to complete his Santa Claus collection: a selfie with the jolly old elf himself. But how can Freddy outwit someone who knows when he is sleeping and when he is awake? Freddy prepares for an entire year to trap his hero, but on the big night, things do not go as he predicts; instead, he receives a prize he had not anticipated. The mystery of Santa Claus is one that intrigues many children and adults alike, and this is a clever take on the topic. The illustrations are brightly colored and heavily emotive, making the images more reminiscent of graphic novels than of traditional picture books. Oversize pages form the perfect backdrop for this story, as each spread is doubly engaging thanks to its size and saturation of color. Written primarily for an early elementary school audience, the text varies in length on each page, with some words exaggerated in size for additional visual appeal. Some pictures incorporate text that is not part of the story, inspiring readers to look closer. VERDICT A delightfully lighthearted holiday addition for fans of The Santa Clause and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver Public Library
Can Santa's biggest fan snap the ultimate selfie?
Freddy Melcher (who has light skin and brown hair and eyes and whose surname is a clever variant of the Wise Man moniker, Melchior) could be Santa's biggest fan. All year long, he celebrates the jolly old elf and collects all things St. Nick. As Christmas Eve approaches, Freddy is determined to capture a photo "with Santa, fresh out of the chimney." He devises a four-step plan involving a rooftop trap and goes to bed determined to stay awake and meet his idol—but, alas, sleep takes hold. A sudden "CRASH!" awakens Freddy, who sees "something big [roll] right off the roof." Is Santa hurt? Poor Freddy dashes outside, fearing the worst, only to find a Santa lawn ornament headfirst in the snow, with a note attached reading, "NICE TRY, FREDDY! —SANTA." Santat cleverly depicts this note viewed from Freddy's perspective, which aligns readers with the protagonist and hides his reaction—for the moment. A page-turn reveals that Freddy feels "FANTASTIC," because "while other kids nestled all snug in their beds, Freddy had played hide-and-seek with his hero!" Never mind a happy ending, this is a downright jolly one—merry, even. Santat's multimedia art elevates Bird's joyful, playful text to holiday picture-book excellence, his use of chiaroscuro especially masterful in the nighttime scenes.
Sure to be caught under many a tree. (Picture book. 4-8)