A Christmas Sonata Book Poster Image

A Christmas Sonata

A dying boy wants to believe in Santa.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Some mild expletives.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a major child character is very sick and eventually dies. Also the existence of Santa is doubted, though reaffirmed at the end.

Parents say

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What's the story?

The author relates a memory of when, at the age of 6, he travels with his mother during WWII to spend Christmas with his aunt, uncle, and dying cousin Matthew. Just before he leaves his faith in Santa Claus is shattered when he sees the mean old man down the hall dressed as Santa and drinking wine.

Almost the first half of the book is taken up with details of their journey by train. When they do arrive, he finds that his bedridden cousin also doesn't believe in Santa. But each of them secretly yearns to believe again, and together they search for a way they can trust that will take them back to belief.

Is it any good?


Though what little action there is comes slowly, many children will be fascinated by the period details. The daylong train trip and the uncle's country store, both lovingly described, are relics of an earlier time, though the rest of the story is timeless. The loss and recovery of faith, though only in Santa Claus, is universal.

As always, Gary Paulsen tells his story in clear, unadorned prose, stripped to the bones of memory and feeling. For once he has an illustrator who matches his style with simple, lucid pencil drawings. But unlike most of Paulsen's work, this is a gentle story, without action or great drama, the kind your grandfather might tell you before you drop off to sleep.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why proof of Santa is so important to the dying boy, and how a glimpse of a mean old man in a Santa suit could destroy that faith. Also, how is the world of memory here different from the modern world?

Book details

Author:Gary Paulsen
Illustrator:Leslie Bowman
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Yearling Books
Publication date:December 19, 2005
Number of pages:76
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 11

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Teen, 14 years old Written bya christmas sonata April 9, 2008


This was the worst book i have ever read and it makes me amd that some one would something like this! Thank you for making this an unsafe world ofr all our kids! Gary Paulsen (The Writer)
Teen, 13 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

Please Listen!!!!

When you choose a book you should read first about what it is about, See if u have read any books from the author. thanks! here are books i reccomend Because of Winn-dixie, The tiger rising, Hatchet, The christas Sonota, Tears of a tiger, Bunicula, bunicula srikes again..., I amber brown, Cam Jansen GOOD LUCK FINDING A BOOK!!
Kid, 9 years old December 16, 2009

it's perfect

when i was in third grade my teacher read it to my reading group.i thought it was wonderful when we were done reading it.i thought it was about a young boy who doesn't know what death is.also that just because he saw an old man dressed in a santa clause suit,he thought there was no santa.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value