Santa’s Book of Names
Little, Brown & Co., 1993
Edward was good at numbers (he could count to fifty) and he knew his alphabet and the names of most of the dinosaurs but he really struggled to read when he opened a book. His teacher wanted him tested but his mother just said, “Patience”. On Christmas Eve, after his dad has read him his favourite Christmas story, Edward wonders how Santa remembers all the children’s names, where they live and what toys to give them.
“Perhaps he has a good memory,” suggests his father.
“Or maybe he has it all written down in a book.” suggests his mother.
As Edward snuggles down under the covers with his torch trying to read the story for himself, he hears a noise. Tiptoeing downstairs he finds that Santa has already been and gone, but lying on the floor is a book – thick and heavy, and very old judging by the worn cover and tattered pages. Santa must have dropped it. Edward rushes outside – just in time to hear the jingle of sleigh bells and the rush of wind. Santa was gone. How was Edward going to get his book back to him so children would not be disappointed in the morning?
Even though it was written 21 years ago, this story remains a favourite of my Christmas Countdown. For Santa does get his book back and invites Edward to come with him on his journey to help him read the names and the toys and as they fly across the skies and visit millions of children, something magical begins to happen for Edward and proves that when we have a need to read we will. As Edward’s mother says, it’s about patience and practice.
Apart from the quality of the story, McPhail’s charming watercolour nightscapes are enchanting – the reader is not only flying along with Santa but experiencing Edward’s wonder and marvel. An internet search shows that this story is still in print, is still getting rave reviews and there are lots of ideas to support it. I just like it.