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Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa's Last Present by Marie-Aude Murail and Elvire Murail

Why hello there!

Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers on this happy Christmas Eve.
What's that?  You celebrate another holiday?  No worries!  Wishes for a happy day to one and all no matter what your holiday celebration may be....although today's first post does require a little belief in the big man in red, so before you proceed I must ask YOU believe?

Today's first book of choice is....

Marie-Aude Murail and Elvire Murail
illustrated by
Ruentin Blake

The stockings are hanging by the chimney with care.  The tree is decorated oh so beautifully with lights and bows.  The fruitcake is being....avoided.  Well what do you's Christmas time!  One more thing to do before the season gets too far along and that's write that all important letter to Santa Claus; I mean he's magical but even he needs time to prepare, right?  Julian isn't so sure. 

You see Julian has reached that special age when the wide eyed wonder of innocence is replaced by skepticism.  Too many questions without answers; impossible feats accomplished with no proof as to how they were done.  In short... ~whispers~ he doesn't really think there is a Santa Claus any more but is willing to pretend that he does in order to get the big present he has requested.  Christmas morning comes and what a surprise, he gets what he asked for...okay no surprise to him as he also told his parents what he wanted, but hang on a minute.  There's another package under the tree and this one everyone is surprised to see.  Just who left this extra gift is as much a mystery as why it is what it is, making Julian second guess his new found belief or rather lack of belief, but this present will lead to many a revelation as well as one final gift from the man in red....

Let me say this first...this is not your typical Christmas story in any respect.  True, it questions the existence of the big SC and true, it centers on the holiday season with all the presents presents presents, HOWEVER where this one steps away from the pack is the tone in which it is all approached.  You can actually feel how Julian is letting the spirit of the season slip through his fingers as he lets go of the magical and holds on to those ideas and beliefs that he can see before his very eyes.  It's sad really.  The wonder and awe is part of what makes the holiday season so special.  We all get the chance to be a kid again and simply...believe. 

Once I caught wind of the ill feelings Julian was emitting, I wasn't quite sure where the tale was going to take things, but followed along nonetheless.  To my surprise, his doubt is turned upside down with that unexpected gift and with it he finds a part of that childlike wonder he had been so ready to say goodbye to.  By books end, his heart is ready to believe as he pins all his hopes on keeping that one stray toy that found its way to him one Christmas night ago.  No worries...Santa knows who's been naughty or nice, but he also knows who needs a dose Christmas magic the most.

Recommended reading for children of all ages...and adults too.  The younger set will enjoy following Julian along through the illustrations that adorn each page, wondering at the presents he receives and dreaming up wish lists of their own.  Those around Julian's age and also filled with that unexpected doubt will benefit from the reinforcement of the magic of the season, discovering the value of the simple things.  Adult readers...well honestly I'd say the opportunity to contemplate this one.  It's a short and simple story but one that really makes you think, I know I certainly did.

Review copy courtesy of Erin at Peachtree Publishing.  (THANKS!)  For more information on their current catalog, visit them online, take a look at their blog, or follow along on Twitter (1 or 2).   

Stay tuned for even more fun today as we count down the hours til Christmas Day with a book review or two to make the season that much brighter.

Until next time...happy holidays...and happy reading!


Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds fantastic. Merry Christmas my darling friend :) Thanks for spreading some cheer :0

Anonymous said...

Ooh, this is a Christmas story that looks right up my alley! Merry Christmas to you!

Elisabeth said...

Happy Holidays!!!

Gina said...

Juju: Merry Christmas! ^_^

JessiKay89: Yay! Glad I could introduce you to it then...merry Christmas!

Elisabeth: Happy holidays! ^_^

The1stdaughter said...

What a lovely story! We all need a little reminder from time to time about what it truly means to "believe" in Christmas. This one reminds me a bit of The Polar Express and the importance of keeping that Christmas Spirit alive. Wonderful review!

Gina said...

the1stdaughter: Good point...and yes, it does run along the lines of THE POLAR EXPRESS in that nature.

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