The Great Santa Stakeout

Arthur A. Levine Bks/Scholastic/. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338169980.
Gr 1-3–Santa Claus may be famous, but he is one elusive character. Freddy Melcher is his number one fan. The boy’s room is decorated with Santa memorabilia, and Freddy dresses like Santa for holidays all year long. Freddy needs only one thing to complete his Santa Claus collection: a selfie with the jolly old elf himself. But how can Freddy outwit someone who knows when he is sleeping and when he is awake? Freddy prepares for an entire year to trap his hero, but on the big night, things do not go as he predicts; instead, he receives a prize he had not anticipated. The mystery of Santa Claus is one that intrigues many children and adults alike, and this is a clever take on the topic. The illustrations are brightly colored and heavily emotive, making the images more reminiscent of graphic novels than of traditional picture books. Oversize pages form the perfect backdrop for this story, as each spread is doubly engaging thanks to its size and saturation of color. Written primarily for an early elementary school audience, the text varies in length on each page, with some words exaggerated in size for additional visual appeal. Some pictures incorporate text that is not part of the story, inspiring readers to look closer.
VERDICT A delightfully lighthearted holiday addition for fans of The Santa Clause and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
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