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Green Christmas December 11, 2008

My husband Josh has a Quaker background that doesn’t seem to manifest itself much in his daily life anymore — except when it comes to children’s books. Blog readers familiar with the Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, know they have a distinctly “green” streak that runs deep.

So while we were waiting for our twins’ birthdate last week — they were born Wednesday, Dec. 3 — Josh read a children’s book review in one of our oft-arriving baby magazines that had him rushing to the nearest bookstore within a day or two of John and Susannah’s birth. What did he buy? Guess How Much I Love You? Love You Forever? No, he bought When Santa Turned Green by Victoria Perla.

Newly published in October 2008, this vastly different spin on the usual Santa fare centers on an unabashed environmental theme. Santa as depicted in the illustrations by Mirna Kantarevic actually bring to my mind a much older environmentally themed book by the great picture book master: The Lorax (Classic Seuss). Remember it and its famous tag-line? “I speak for the trees!”

Perla too speaks for the trees — and the polar ice caps, and the Earth’s atmosphere… in fact, the whole planet. I love how, when Santa decides he must combat the issue of global warming, he goes straight to the people who can help the most — the children:

“He went to the real future. To you.

And your sisters and brothers and friends.

That’s right, he went to the children.

Because they have the power to change the world.”

The story goes on to detail what some individual children do to help save their world, from using reusable lunch containers to composting to getting Grandpa to buy a hybrid vehicle.

Parents and educators who don’t have much patience for didactic books may be put off by this book’s overt environmental theme, but I like it for its straightforward, non-sneaky and non-apologetic tone. My guess is When Santa Turned Green will turn out to be more than just a Christmas book, snapped up by those who embrace its message and who want to help children think more broadly than Christmas lists and sleighbells.

posted by Janie McQueen for www.magicbookshelfonline.com

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One Response to “Green Christmas”

  1. Dear Janie McQueen,

    We just discovered your blog and after exploring, reading about your books, your family and your husband, we would like to send you review copy of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, the third book in our Planet of the Dogs series. Your comments about Quakers, your husband and When Santa Turned Green prompted this idea.

    Moreover, I think your nine year old — and perhaps his older brother — would enjoy all the books in the series.

    These illustrated first chapter fantasy-adventure books are for children and dog lovers of all ages.

    You and your sons can preview the books in advance. For sample chapters and more information on the series, please visit http://www.planetofthedogs.net.

    For information on the concepts behind our books and our involvement in therapy dog reading programs, please visit http://barkingplanet.typepad.com.

    If, after visiting our sites, you would like to read — and hopefully, review — the complete series, including Planet Of The Dogs and Castle In The Mist, let us know, and we will be happy to send them to you.

    Best wishes,
    Robert McCarty
    Barking Planet Productions


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