My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a lovely book! I love the idea idea introduced on the first page of text that Santa Claus is a poet and typed out a haiku a day from December 1 through Christmas. "Santa is a man of many talents," reads the note. "Now you can peak at Santa's haiku... and catch a glimpse of life at the North Pole." This is a fantasy mixture, part Rankin/Bass productions (elves, hot cocoa, a snowman) and part real North Pole life (wolves howling at the moon, the aurora borealis). Raczka's haiku are cute and clever (a few move into the beautiful category), but (like most picture books) it's Groenik's illustrations that make the book truly special. His color palette isn't the traditional bright red and green of Christmas wrapping paper but more muted and soft - maroons, tans, creams, navy blues, etc. The setting is North Pole Sweden, and Santa and Mrs. Claus dress a bit more like modern Swedes rather than the jolly old elf and his wife of an old Coca Cola ad. To me, while Santa has the big white beard of a Caucasian lumberjack, Mrs. Claus looks more indigenous look about her (maybe Sami?) which I think is really quite awesome.
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