[Book Review] Baby Santa and the Gift of Giving by M. Maitland DeLand

This eARC was downloaded for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Baby Santa and the Gift of Giving
 is the most recent installment of medical doctor M. Maitland DeLand's Baby Santa series, which I'll admit I didn't realize when I downloaded it. So I'll admit up front that there may be a teensy bit of context I'm missing here, given that it's the fifth book in the series; on the other hand, they're picture books, so I don't imagine there's too terribly much to miss.

In any case, The Gift of Giving is a cute Christmas story about Santa and Mrs. Claus's young son, Baby Santa. It follows the titular character on his journey to New York City to "spread good will and cheer" with a family that sent his Father Christmas a rather atypical letter, offering to help him help others during the holiday season. So Baby Santa and the family in question, the Bonds, spend the course of this short, rhyming picture book volunteering at a community center kitchen, giving gifts to children in the hospital, donating to an animal shelter, singing carols at a senior center, and helping build a house--while, of course, also enjoying their vacation by taking in a show at Radio City Music Hall, seeing The Nutcracker, and getting some gifts of their own.

All in all, it's a pretty cute story with a pro-charity moral, and I'd recommend it as holiday picture book reading for that reason alone. Other things it has going for it include the positive representation of a minority family, as the Bonds are likely intended to be African American (though I will note that it seems a bit tokenish, as all the unnamed background characters are fair-skinned) and a refreshing balance between the oft-anvilicious charity aspect of the holiday and the less selfless relaxation/enjoyment aspect. And for those readers who experience Christmas as a religious holiday, there's a small rhyme and picture involving a Nativity scene, though parents who only celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion and haven't introduced their children to the religious aspects and/or do not wish to do so may find it's not for them.

I think Baby Santa and the Gift of Giving would be a nice, quick holiday read for a young child or beginning reader. It's nothing fascinating, of course, and the poetry isn't exactly Poe, but I imagine it'd be a good way to help get a young, Christmas-celebrating family in to the holiday spirit, at the very least, and there are four more Baby Santa books to check out if you find the need.

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