[Book Review] Santa Claus Doesn't Mop Floors (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #3) by Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones

There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the jolly new janitor really be Santa Claus?

The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!

Santa Claus Doesn't Mop Floors opens with Mr. Dobson, the Bailey City Elementary School janitor, quitting his job in a fit of rage; Mrs. Jeepers' class has finally gone too far. Though their bad behavior is quelled when their teacher is there to intimidate them, their current substitute, Mrs. Ewing, doesn't have the slightest idea how to control them, and they've gone back to their pre-Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots shenanigans... and it's finally changed Dobson away.

Mr. Jolly takes his place. And, because Mrs. Jeepers' class is prone to superstition, he quickly becomes the subject of speculation. He's fat. He's jolly. He works so fast, it's like magic. He's even seen hanging out with a little person who dresses entirely in green and calls him "S.C." With clues continuing to pile up--from his habitual list-keeping to his instance on keeping the school chilly--the gang becomes convinced that he's actually Santa Claus in disguise.

Well, except for Eddie. Eddie's never convinced.

Basically, Santa Claus Doesn't Mop Floors is a simple Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane story about a janitor who may or may not be Santa Claus. The kids never come up with a definitive answer about him--they never come up with definitive answers--but in the end, it doesn't matter; a certain grumpy member of their group gets a merry Christmas surprise anyway.

It's not the most fascinating story and some children may be a bit frustrated by the lack of firm resolution to the mystery over Mr. Jolly's identity, but it's a cute story that comes with a heartwarming (if sudden) ending. It'd be a fun read for a child around Christmastime; there's absolutely nothing religious here, so those who celebrate any of the secular aspects of the holiday should be able to enjoy the book regardless of their religion/philosophy.

Though this isn't the most riveting Bailey School Kids novel, I'm a fan of the series, and I definitely recommend that any chapter book readers give it a chance. If you're picking it up for the first time, I'd suggest starting with some of the later installments, perhaps, to see what it's like when the series finds itself, so to speak. Apart from Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots being the definitive first book and several books featuring the return of certain suspected monsters, most of the books can be read in any order you please.

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