IP Book review

Need to relax for the holidays with some light reading? Kristy Haile’s I Am Santa! could be just what you’re looking for. A sweet tale written with motherly love and plenty of imagination, I Am Santa! is a wholesome novel inspired by the author’s son, Ty. The story’s main character, four-year-old Nicholas, is transformed after a brief conversation at the mall with an elderly man, someone who looks remarkably like Old Saint Nick. This eventful encounter leads to an important mission for the precocious preschooler: He now believes, with all his heart, that he is the new, real Santa Claus!

 From this launching point, the author takes us on a magical journey reminiscent of Christmas movies along the lines of Elf and The Santa Clause. Occasionally joined by his big sister Holly, Nicholas travels between dimensions, doing normal kid things with his family of four but taking on enormous responsibility whenever he finds himself at the North Pole. He takes his role very seriously, so much so that a Santa suit just his size becomes his uniform, worn to family gatherings and on countless errands, even well after Christmas is over.

 Nicholas’ mission is two-fold: to do his job as the new Santa (and to do it well), and to bring childlike joy to anyone with an open mind and an open heart. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty easy for Nicholas to convince other children that he’s really Santa. Adults, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Some choose to mock, but others do believe, smiling inside and out at the sight of such a dedicated young Santa. Through it all, the new real Santa Claus maintains his composure, his contagious optimism, and a firm belief in himself.

 Though initially surprised by her son’s proclamation, Nicholas’ mother quickly realizes she has two choices: either tell him to cut it out, or support him as wholeheartedly as he embraces his new role. Wisely, she chooses to back her little boy, as well as his sister, a hundred percent – and then some. Together on this adventure, Nicholas and his family learn life lessons about love, support, forgiveness, the power of imagination, and the beauty of being true to oneself.

 More than a Christmas story, I Am Santa! is a tribute to families and the closeness fostered when parents are there for their children, allowing them to embrace their creativity. It’s about living not an ordinary day-to-day existence but a joyful, fabulous life where possibilities abound and the heart serves as compass. Kristy Haile clearly includes nuances from her own happy family life. Regardless of age, readers will be moved by a certain warmth and comfort in the author’s depictions of family life, complete with board game nights and friendly popcorn fights.

 Perhaps that’s my favorite part of I Am Santa! The story itself is fun and engaging, but what I enjoyed most was the feeling permeating the text, a feeling that page after page conveys family togetherness, motherly love, and a happy home. My least favorite part of the book would be the few typos that didn’t get cleaned up completely; as a professional editor, I am a stickler about clean copy. But even this does not detract from the warmth of the tone, or the fun of the ride, in this charming story.

 Kristy Haile does a marvelous job of lifting readers’ spirits with I Am Santa! Just picturing young Nicholas in his cute Santa suit is enough to put a smile on your face. Add to this image a creative story, a family that clearly loves and supports one another, and a bit of holiday magic, and you’ve got the perfect stress-free book to relax with.

 

 Review by Graciela Sholander

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