Santa Claustrophobia (Picture Puffin Books)

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9780142403761: Santa Claustrophobia (Picture Puffin Books)

Meet Doc Holiday. As a therapist he’s helped everyone from the Thanksgiving Turkey, with nightmares about Pilgrims, to Cupid, who’s remarkably shy for a guy with no pants! But when Saint Nick himself develops a fear of chimneys, the Doc has to round up the rest of the holiday gang to handle Christmas while Santa recuperates. The challenges become obvious when the Easter Bunny paints all the toys pastel colors, Lincoln and Washington fight over who’s in charge, Columbus insists he must sail west to go east to make the deliveries, and the April Fool manages to do everything wrong! Christmas is out of control, and it’s clear that only one person can set things right. . . .

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Review:

The comedic team that last explained How Murray Saved Christmas--Simpsons writer Mike Reiss and editorial illustrator David Catrow--returns for another comical yuletide rhyme.

At first glance, their book threatens to be too wacky for its own good, but Reiss quickly saves the tale with fun rhymes and abundant cleverness. Santa Claus suffers from recurring nightmares about getting stuck in a lit chimney ("I smell something cooking. I'm not sure just what. Is it ham? Is it lamb? No, I think it's my butt!"), which clearly points to a case of Santa Claustrophobia. So Doc Holiday wisely prescribes (what else?) a holiday, arranging for St. Nick's Christmas duties to be handled by the April Fool, St. Patrick, the Tooth Fairy, et al. ("There were even a few who weren't so famous, like the Arbor Day Aardvark and Labor Day Amos.") But the well-meaning Doc soon finds that replacing the Big Guy isn't that easy: Cupid attaches long, time-consuming love notes to each present, Columbus on delivery-detail insists on sailing "east to go west, then west to go east," and the Easter Bunny has trouble gift-wrapping ("his paws were too small") so resorts to painting all the presents in pastels.

Fortunately, a tanned, toned Santa Claus returns from Aruba just in time to save the day: "If chimneys are tight, I've got nothing to fear: I lost twenty pounds--nineteen from my rear!" Both kids and adults will enjoy the same humor Reiss showed in Murray, but some of the biggest laughs in the book undoubtedly belong to Catrow's details (including a genius Father Time from 1969, sporting a plastic pick sticking out of his huge gray afro). (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

About the Author:

David Catrow is the illustrator of many picture books including Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon and its sequel Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell; I Wanna Iguana and its two companion books I Wanna New Room and I Wanna Go Home, written by Karen Kaufman Orloff; Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel; The Middle Child Blues by Kristyn Crow; and We the Kids: the Preamble to the Constitution. He lives in Ohio with his wife, Deborah.

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