The 12 Sleighs of Christmas

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The 12 Sleighs of Christmas Book Poster Image
Elves compete to make Santa new sleigh in imaginative tale.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of vehicle vocabulary: chassis, turbo, fuel-injected, suspension, nitrous burning, gizmos, semi truck, diesel, headlights, blimp, hot rod, bulldozer, exhaust, pulleys, levers, souped-up. Shows construction tools, from hammers and wrenches to blow torches and speed-boosting nitrous-oxide tanks. Shows design process, with charts, graphs, mathematical calculations.

Positive Messages

Strong message about the value of teamwork, friendly competition, and being creative to solve a problem. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The elves are creative and hardworking, dedicated to meeting their deadline so Santa will be able to deliver gifts to kids around the world. Santa is kind and appreciative of their hard work. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, by Sherri Dusker Rinker (Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site) and illustrated by Jake Parker (The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man), is a zippy rhyming tale about a contest among 12 teams of diverse North Pole elves to build the best new sleigh for Santa's Christmas Eve ride around the world. This is an especially good choice for kids who love cars and trucks. It offers lots of vehicle and engine vocabulary and makes a turbocharged read-aloud. 

User Reviews

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Parent of a 2 and 5-year-old Written byjpda October 23, 2018

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What's the story?

In THE 12 SLEIGHS OF CHRISTMAS, the big day is just two weeks away when the North Pole elves discover that Santa's sleigh was damaged last Christmas. They form 12 teams to compete in designing and constructing a new one for Santa. The different versions are wildly imaginative, with sleighs that resemble a hot rod, a giant semi truck, a sailing ship with 50 sails, a blimp, a snowplow, a train, a spaceship, and more. And one rebel elf works alone to rehab Santa's damaged traditional sleigh. After Santa makes his choice on Christmas Eve, the elves have a race with the remaining creations. 

Is it any good?

Kids who love cars and trucks will love this action-packed story about alternatives to Santa's traditional sleigh. Author Sherri Duskey Rinker knows a thing about vehicles, after writing Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and its follow-up, Mighty, Mighty Construction Site. The text has great momentum, but it's rather lengthy, and some the rhyming schemes are inconsistent, making it a less than smooth read-aloud in places. ("He's been working privately, / as hard at work as one can be, / on a secret back-up plan.") But car and truck lovers might not care.

Jake Parker's cartoon-like illustrations are visually dazzling, from the fanciful sleighs to the antic elves. There's a welcome diversity in the cast, and the independent-minded elf hero of the tale has brown skin. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the different kinds of sleighs in The 12 Sleighs of Christmas. Which one do you like best? 

  • Were you surprised by which one Santa chose in the end? Which do you like better: old-style things or inventive new things? 

  • Try drawing a new sleigh for Santa. Will it look like a car, a boat, a sailing ship, a spaceship, or something totally different? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday stories and vehicle books

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