This holiday adventure is the first book in " The Kringle Chronicles" by Marc Franco and is published by Pants on Fire Press.
Catching Santa was written for kids ages 8 years old and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Eleven-year-old Jakob lives in Florida. His best friends, Logan, Shig and Fleep, as well as his nemesis, Rick, all live in his subdivision. After Jakob's friends say they don't believe in Santa, Rick's sister, Tiff, concocts an elaborate story about a curse. She says Jakob's friends must recant their disbelief. Jakob decides to help Tiff catch Santa as a way of convincing Rick to believe in him. While the curse itself turns out to be a scam, Tiff really does want help catching Santa.
An evil, fallen helper of Santa's, called S.R., wants the magical belt Santa took from him. He kidnaps Rick, as he has done with other children on Santa's "wayward" list. Then he appears to Jakob and his friends in a cloud of smoke, promising to turn Logan, Shig and Fleep into coal if Jakob doesn't produce Santa. Tiff admits that her family has worked for S.R. for centuries. He tasked them with finding a Pole — a person next in line to be Santa — because only a Pole can see Santa to catch him. When Tiff's family realized Jakob was a Pole, they moved into his neighborhood to keep an eye on him. But Tiff's family grew tired of being under S.R's thumb, so they became double agents for Santa's people. The Elf spies around the world suggested the only way for them to lure S.R. out of hiding was to catch Santa and let the opposing armies do battle.
Jakob and friends formulate a plan with the help of Elf and Dwarf soldiers. The friends give Santa a caffeinated drink that he is allergic to; it will put him to sleep. Jakob accidentally gives Santa too much and renders him unconscious. Meanwhile, evil creatures working for S.R., including vampire owls, ice skeletons and dragons, emerge from a gigantic magical book in Tiff's house. Santa's forces — strong military men and women magically disguised as reindeer, engage in an epic battle alongside Elves, Dwarves, Jakob and his friends in the now-snow-covered Florida neighborhood. Santa finally wakes up and destroys the evil forces. He promises to begin training Jakob to be the next Santa soon.
Jakob prays for snow and hopes God is listening and feeling generous. Jakob tells his friends that Santa is as real as God. When one friend argues that you can't see God, Jakob says that not physically seeing Him doesn't mean he doesn't believe in God. Jakob says prayers at bedtime, and his dad reads him two chapters from the Bible every night. When his friends talk about the 10 rules of Christmas, he says he's heard of the Ten Commandments, but never the Christmas rules. S.R. gives the kids a riddle about how to find Santa's secret website. They realize it is a reference to Adam and Eve eating the fruit in the garden. The code word that gets them into the secret site is "Apple."
Other Belief Systems
Tiff's mom has a green crystal with a flame burning inside that tells her whether someone is a Pole. Jakob wonders if Tiff can foretell the future. Catching Santa is filled with magical creatures, both good and evil. Whether people believe (or "have faith in") Santa is a key issue. Jakob's history book, given to him by one of Santa's people, talks about a terrible freeze on the earth after Adam and Eve's time. Most people and animals were destroyed. The story goes on to talk about the roles of Elves, Dwarves, giants, dragons and other creatures that roamed the earth after that. Santa says sometimes even magical folks need something to believe in. He tells Jakob that he will begin to think like a Pole and understand the difference between what seems true and what really is true. He will learn to see the eternal reality and truth for what it really is.
The word heck appears a few times. There is plenty of battle action, but no gore.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why is it so hard for Fleep to believe in Santa?
- Do you find it hard to believe in something you can't see? Explain your answer.
How do you know God is real?
What are some of your family's Christmas beliefs and traditions?
Lying: Jakob withholds information from Tiff because he doesn't know if she is an enemy or an ally. Tiff lies about the curse before telling Jakob her true motive for trying to catch Santa.
Parental involvement: Jakob says his dad wouldn't like him emailing a stranger the way he does when he's trying to get information about the Christmas curse. He also wishes he could involve adults in his predicament so the kids weren't battling S.R. alone. But Jakob knows S.R. will be angry if he gets parents involved.
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Readability Age Range
8 and up
Marc Franco, David M.F. Powers
Pants on Fire Press
Next Generation Indie Book Award, 2011