review: Santa Duck
Santa Duck written and illustrated by David Milgrim. Putnam, 2008 (978-0-399-25018-7) $16.99
Need a break from serious or sentimental Christmas stories? Here's one about the true meaning of Christmas--getting stuff! When Nicholas Duck finds a cozy coat and Santa hat on his doorstep, he discovers that every animal he meets greets him as "Santa Duck" and starts giving him a Christmas list: a chicken wants all kinds of flying machines, a rabbit wants a carrot cake--the size of a football field--and a cat yearns for "a mouse and a canary and a trout and maybe a couple of nice, plump hamsters. Better bring some egg nog too." Nicholas tries to get rid of the hat, to no avail, finally running away squealing "leave me alooooone!"--and he runs straight into the real Santa. ("No way!" says Nicholas. "Way" says Santa.)
Nicholas gives Santa everyone else's list, forgetting to give his own. But when he gets home, the note on his door from Santa about what a great help he was makes him so proud, he realizes that "getting to help Santa was the best gift he could get." That is, until he finds an awesome "Santa Duck" car waiting for him the next morning.
With its lively characters and slightly iconoclastic attitude, Santa Duck is full of good kid-friendly humor. In a touch parents will appreciate, some of the characters are shown at the end with gifts that aren't quite as ambitious as those on the lists: the rabbit is perfectly happy with an ordinary sized cake. And for those worried about the cat's list, it is shown walking a small animal on a leash, rather than noshing on it. (4-8)