It’s Better to Give Than…
Here Comes Santa Cat
By Deborah Underwood; pictures by Claudia Rueda
I just found the perfect picture book for the weekly story time for 3, 4 and 5 year olds who may be a tad anxious this time of year. Their reason? An internal examination of conscience may have put some of them, from time to time, on Santa’s proverbial “naughty list!”
Enter Deborah Underwood’s “Here Comes Santa Cat” with pictures by Claudia Rueda who has the gift of portraying frustration, glee, chagrin, doubt and pure joy on the face of a cat. It’s the run up to Christmas and the reader of this picture book gets to act out the part of a gentle inquisitor, asking a Santa clad cat some mildly probing questions such as:
Question: Why are you dressed like Santa?”
Drawn Response: So you can give yourself a gift?
Seems Cat figures it is a pretty safe bet that he is NOT on the “nice” list which leaves a very ungratifying conclusion. Yes, it’s the “naughty list” for Cat and the solution is perhaps to gift himself because he thinks Santa won’t!
The gentle inquisitor, through a series of give-and-take queries, involves Cat in a education on what it means to BE Santa and Cat’s facial responses are priceless. Climbing down sooty chimneys and jet pack driven rides that end up in tumbles from the sky are not Cat’s idea of Santa scintillation.
The questioner softly tells Cat that Santa does not GET presents, he GIVES them and he suggests Cat just try being NICE.
A worried Cat, carrying a December 24th sign is assured that it’s not too late. He tries caroling or YOWLING, gifting kids with…FISH, decorating the town square tree – all end in disaster. Yet Cat is GIFTED with two cans of fancy cat food by the gentle cat questioner.
This is where the rubber hits the road in Cat’s Santa charade as a poor kitten wanders by, crying out.
“Any ideas?” asks the reader.
The frustrated tug-of-war “what to do” look on Cat’s face is a true artistic endeavor. He KNOWS what he has to do, but covers his eyes as he extends a paw with a can of cat food. Ah Cat! We knew you had it in you! And so does Santa as Cat is gifted by Santa himself with… But then again Christmas is supposed to be a time of surprises, no?
Please read this endearing story to a young reader this holiday season. It never sidesteps the difficulty in being a normal kid, yet exults with Santa Cat at the lesson he learns that it’s always better to give than to….But you knew that, right?