Michael Keane, Author
Michael Garland, Illustrator
Regnery Kids, Fiction, 2012
Suitable for Ages: 4 and up
Themes: Santa, Christmas, NORAD, Military, Teamwork
Opening/Synopsis: ‘Twas the night before Christmas at NORAD’s home base/ Not an airman was stirring, each one was in place/Ready and waiting for the very first sight/Of good old St. Nick on his Christmas Eve flight.” Every year the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa as he delivers gifts to children worldwide. But, Santa and his reindeer get lost in a blizzard. He disappears from their radar. Will NORAD be able to find Santa with their high-tech equipment and help Santa deliver presents to the children in the world? Children will love the suspense and the illustrations.
Why I like this book: Michael Keane has written a beautiful picture book in the style of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night Before Christmas. Every year millions of children track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker. I especially like how Keane shows children the humanitarian side of the military. The generals worldwide come together to develop a plan and teach kids about teamwork during a crisis. They learn military language and the compassion of all services worldwide to serve the greater good. There is even an element of suspense with the involvement of Special Ops teams. The book speaks to the true nature of Christmas when we can set aside our difference and remember our humanity. Michael Garland’s artwork is eye-popping. His digital illustrations are bold, colorful, lively and will engage both young and older readers in looking at the detail.
Favorite Stanzas: “The Commander-in-Chief was handed a phone/ Scramble the fighter jets/Send up a drone!/For both red state and blue state, this is a real threat!/It’s even much worse than our national debt!”
“Go Army! Go Marines! Go Navy and Air Force!/Call in the Reservists and the Guardsmen, of course!/To the ends of the earth, help with Santa’s big haul!/ Now march away! Fly away! Sail away, all!”
Resources. There are six wonderful pages of history about how the tradition began in 1955 with a very funny story involving an ad in the newspaper and a wrong phone number. Have your kids track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker on December 24, to check on Santa’s location in the world. They can map Santa’s progress and learn about time zones. NORAD volunteers take kids phone calls and respond to e-mails. NORAD actually begins the countdown on December 1, so kids can visit the site daily.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.