Just Be Claus

Sleeping Bear. Aug. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534111011.
Toddler-PreS–Joosse’s latest offering is a Clausian origin story with sweetness rivaling the holiday’s titular treats. Readers meet “Clausie” as a baby and watch him grow into a “not like other kids’’ holiday enthusiast. When a snowstorm prevents present delivery from the nondescript winter town, a young Clausie predictably engineers a plan that solidifies him as the new monarch of gift-giving. While “just be yourself” is a worthy and earnestly presented moral, the overall package is lacking. The twee illustrations rely on a color palette reminiscent of an eight-pack of crayons, lacking dimension and energy. The prose is brief enough to be an option for even fairly young listeners, but it isn’t particularly inspired. The story centers Clausie and his family, who are white, but among the villagers there are folks with a diversity of skin tones and features.
VERDICT It’s safe to pass on this well-intentioned but unsuccessful and unremarkable work.

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