Christmas favorites: ‘Santa Calls’

There are a lot of classic Christmas books and many of them are very familiar and much-beloved. But if you’re looking for an offbeat Christmas book for kids, check out “Santa Calls.”

The picture book by William Joyce tells the story — in tongue-in-cheek manner — of Art, a boy living in Texas in the early 1900s. Art is an inventor and self-styled adventurer who, along with his pal Spaulding, finds a mysterious crate. The box includes the makings of an early airship and, improbably, an invitation to come to the North Pole and find Santa.

Of course, much to Art’s dismay, his tag-along little sister, Esther, talks her way into the adventure.

The three kids find themselves involved in a wild and wooly battle, defending Santa and the North Pole against an evil queen. Art and Spaulding lead the fight and little Esther, much to Art’s surprise, proves her mettle.

The story and Joyce’s writing reminds me of old pulp stories and the ending — and the secret behind Santa’s call to arms — made me misty-eyed.

“Santa Calls” has become a favorite in our household. It’s a terrific and unexpected Christmas present.


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