The Santa Trap

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
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Greedy boy tries to capture Santa in funny, offbeat tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows all sorts of weapons and explosive devices as part of the trap. Kids can identify dynamite, swords, a mace, knight's armor, an anvil, and more.

Positive Messages

Bradley's greediness is shown to be so extreme as to be laughable. But the message is clearly that it's wrong to be so greedy. There's also the message that you can't fool Santa -- he knows who belongs on the naughty list, and who belongs on the nice list. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Santa Claus is the only good guy here. Bradley's been bad since birth, and his ineffectual parents have enabled his selfishness, greed and bad behavior. 

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon violence includes Bradley tying up the mailman and shooting rubber-tipped arrows at him, shooting an elephant with a slingshot, causing the beast to crash through a wall, an explosion that blows up Bradley's living room and shoots Bradley out of his house, and some tigers attacking a Santa puppet and then closing in on Bradley menacingly but not hurting him. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Santa Trap is a funny Christmas story about Bradley, a selfish little boy who sets a trap for Santa Claus so he can steal all the gifts Santa's carrying on his sleigh. The little boy is a model of badness, but don't worry: he gets his in the end. There's one big explosion but the results are comic, with Bradley being shot out of his house onto the snow and running into the menacing tigers he had intended to attack Santa. 

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What's the story?

Bradley Bartleby is a bad little boy who was born bad. He's selfish and greedy, and every year his wealthy father hires a team of secretaries to type up Bradley's huge Christmas list for Santa Claus. Santa knows Bradley's naughty, so he brings him only a pair of socks every year. Following the last Christmas, Bradley spends the whole year booby-trapping his chimney and living room with everything from rockets, dynamite, and cannons to live tigers -- all to trap Santa and demand every present he's carrying on his sleigh. Things do not go as planned, and Santa triumphs once again.

Is it any good?

THE SANTA TRAP is an offbeat, funny Christmas story with as much of a moral lesson as more  heartwarming yuletide fare but a lot more laughs. The expressive, cartoon-like illustrations show Bradley's many moods -- from angry and frustrated to mean, nasty, and diabolical -- as he methodically sets his trap. Readers get to see a little kid take charge (his parents move into a hotel when the house becomes too dangerous) but will delight in seeing him get his comeuppance. It's wonderfully different holiday book both kids and parents will enjoy. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about making a Christmas gift list. What's reasonable and what seems too greedy?

  • How does The Santa Trap compare with other Christmas stories you've read or seen in a movie? 

  • Does Bradley learn anything by the end of the story?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

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