________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 24 . . . .February 26, 2016


Santa Is Coming to Niagara Falls.

Steve Smallman. Illustrated by Robert Dunn and Liberum Sonum Studio.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-4926-2655-8.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Indergit Deogun.

*** /4


Santa’s sleigh flew through the starry night, heading south across the Arctic Ocean. On they flew in the wintry air, crossing over Canada. In the wink of an eye, the sleigh was flying above Toronto and past Lake Ontario.


With the presents loaded and the reindeer fed, Santa’s ready for his annual trek around the world. The smooth ride turns unexpectedly treacherous when Santa flies into a howling blizzard and ends up hopelessly lost. But the youngest reindeer, a new recruit, hears something in the distance and, with the situation growing evermore dire, decides to head toward the sound.

     Steve Smallman dares to expand on the beloved Christmas carol “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and succeeds. Focusing on Niagara Falls allows Smallman to make the journey relatable to young Canadian readers who are able to see their home in the pages of the book. The sprinkling of commentary throughout adds a lighthearted quality and makes readers feel like they are in on a secret. However, Smallman’s decision not to give “the youngest reindeer” a name is not only cumbersome but also a missed opportunity in fully developing a lovable character.

     Illustrated by Robert Dunn, Santa Is Coming to Niagara Falls is a picture book with full-colour illustrations that are both soft and whimsical. Sadly, the harmony that Dunn strikes with his beautiful illustrations for the majority of the book is thrown off balance with one over-the-top spread. The spread, which is crammed with landmarks of Niagara Falls, is jarring in comparison and feels like it belongs in an entirely different book. Though there are a few missteps, Santa Is Coming to Niagara Falls is a good choice for children excited about Christmas and Santa’s impending arrival.


Inderjit Deogun is a communications professional in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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