Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Fiction: Santa's Helpers (Reindeer)

The books about Santa are seemingly endless.  As a result, I am breaking them up into smaller groups.  These are the best books about Santa’s reindeer helpers. 

Where’s Prancer? (ages 3-7) by Syd Hoff (Beginning Reader) 
Santa returns to the North Pole after giving out presents.  He goes inside to warm up with a cup of tea.  When he ventures outside to give his reindeer a treat, he realizes that Prancer is missing.  Santa is on edge, thinking every phone call or knock on the door is his faithful, missing reindeer.  He finally remembers that the last place he saw Prancer was Philadelphia.  Santa and the seven remaining reindeer go back the city of brotherly love to look for him.  The group finds Prancer looking into a window.  He stayed back because he “wanted to see how people looked on Christmas Day.”  Santa and the reindeer enjoy observing the “many happy faces.”  They are “glad they had helped make them that way.”   Everyone returns home safely.  Where’s Prancer? can be read independently by beginning readers. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (ages 3-8) by Robert L. May
Rudolph is used to being berated for his nose “red as a beet” which is “twice as big” and bright.  On Christmas Eve it is so foggy out that Santa has difficulty navigating, until he visits Rudolph’s home where he sees that “the lamp wasn’t burning; the light came, instead, from something that lay at the head of the bed.”  It is Rudolph’s nose!  Santa asks him to help deliver the presents.  Rudolph proudly assists Santa that night.   When they return to the North Pole, Santa praises Rudolph for his bravery and brilliance in front of the other reindeer.   Rudolph humbly accepts the compliments and admiration of the others.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is written in rhyming couplets. 

Rudolph’s Second Christmas (ages 4-9) by Robert L. May 
After a vacation in the South Pole, Santa returns to find his house full of thank you letters.  He enlists Rudolph to help him open and read them.  Rudolph comes across one that brings him to tears.  Two children did not get a visit from Santa because they move so much with the circus.  Rudolph sets out to find them.  He learns that the circus is so poorly received that it only stays in a town for one day.  On his way home, he comes across a group of misfit animals—a canary that talks, a parrot that sings, a cat that barks, a dog that meows, a hare that is slow, and a turtle that is fast.  They feel lonely and ostracized from others.  Santa and Rudolph work together to help these animals become the stars of the circus—which now is so popular is stays in one place for months!  Santa has no problem finding the two circus children the next Christmas.  They even get an extra present at Christmas to make up for the previous year. 

Reindeer Christmas (ages 4-9) by Mark Kimball Moulton 
One snowy winter night, a family comes across a weak and tired reindeer.  They bring him inside their home where they make a comfortable place for him by the fire and put out some oats and fruit for him to eat.  When they wake up the next morning (Christmas Eve), the reindeer is gone.   On Christmas day, they find an extra present under the tree…from Santa Claus.  He thanks the family for taking care of Donner, who accidently got separated from them while they put stars on the trees, because there would have been no Christmas without him to help pull the sleigh.  In return for their kindness to Donner and all the forest animals they care for, the family is given a single magical wish.  They selflessly use it to wish peace, happiness, and love to others the whole year through.  Reindeer Christmas is written in poetic form, including rhyme, alliteration, and rhythm. 

How the Reindeer Got Their Antlers (ages 5-9) by Geraldine McCaughrean
As soon as the animals were created, some of them began to argue who should be king.  An angel gives each one a crown and sends them to different places to “reign.”  Before the reindeer is given a domain, he journeys and hides in the coldest, most desolate part of the world because he is embarrassed by his crown of antlers.  When Santa calls out for help one Christmas Eve, only the reindeer are willing to help him.  It is their crown of antlers that save Santa and Christmas.  Santa assures the reindeer that they are “the best, most handsome animals in the world.”  In return for their assistance, they reindeer are given the gift of flight each year for “one simple magical night of soaring over desert, woods, and fields.”  Now, young reindeer look forward to growing their own crown of antlers. 

Honorable Mention:

Who’ll Pull Santa’s Sleigh Tonight? (ages 4-8) by Laura Rader 
When the reindeer come down with colds right before Christmas, Santa tries out different plans to for how to get the toys to all the boys and girls. He finds that the simplest one, though, is most effective.

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