A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that they may find this book very funny, but its brand of humor is not geared toward younger kids. And the Santa lookalikes are rather rough looking, sporting tattoos, smoking, and toothless. For those who are ready for its message, the story does capture the stress many kids feel at Christmas time, especially the part about being judged "naughty" or "nice" on Santa's list.
What's the story?
This twisted take-off on the "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" carol that most kids know takes that song one step further. A rather neurotic young boy begins to see Santas everywhere, and most of them are far from being the kindly old gent of more classic Christmas stories and songs. In fact, most depictions are rather menacing looking and definitely unbecomingly portrayed. The boy feels he is being stalked by this scary, judgmental Santa that he sees everywhere, and he seeks out a psychiatrist, hoping to get a little help with his fears. A surprising twist at the end will leave older readers wondering ... and chuckling.
Is it any good?
Overall, this book is clever and funny though not really appropriate for the young kids who are part of its intended audience. Those readers might be better served with one of the many versions of the original story, which has a number of illustrated versions. While I SEE SANTA EVERYWHERE derives easily from the traditional idea that Santa is everywhere, keeping an eye on every child's behavior, this version is an obvious exaggeration that is raised to the level of the absurd.
Whether readers appreciate it will rest partly on their relationship with Santa, and partly on their appreciation of cartoon artistry. Readers old enough to understand the playfulness of Santa's image, especially his judging of whose "naughty" and "nice," will appreciate the strange, sometimes bizarre humor with which Glenn McCoy has created his imagined Santas. His cartooning is excellent. In fact, it's the best part of the book, and the part that redeems the questionable tone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the little boy feels so stressed out. How do you feel during the winter holidays? What what makes you feel that way?
Do you remember the words to the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town?" How do you feel about that Christmas song? Why do you think the little boy takes it so seriously? What do you think about the idea that Santa is keeping a list of who is good and who is bad?
Families might also want to talk about all of the weird Santas that the boy sees. How are they like the Santa you imagine? How are they different?