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Santa Goes on Strike by Jem Vanston

Something's gone horribly wrong. It's Christmas Eve and everything is very busy in Santa's grotto. The presents are all ready and waiting to be loaded onto the sleigh and the reindeer are itching to get going. But Santa? Santa is just not in the mood. He is tired of delivering the latest toys to children who only play with them for five minutes. He wishes people would remember what Christmas is really about - a time for families to come together for love and friendship and goodwill to one another.

Santa Goes on Strike by Jem Vanston

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A lovely poem about a depressed Santa going on strike. Some subtle awareness raising about mental health in a heartwarming story, beautifully illustrated.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Rowanvale
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1911569749

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In fact, Santa is so fed up that he has decided to go on strike. This upsets the reindeer because it's their duty to deliver those presents and they don't like to see Santa so upset. And what will happen when families wake up on Christmas morning to discover no presents?

Don't worry and do read on: you might be surprised and gladdened by how it all turns out!

Gosh, this is a lovely little story. The main message is about greed and it could easily have missed its mark by coming off as dour and miserable but this doesn't happen at all. Jem Vanston packs the rhymes with genuine concern for Santa's disappointment and love and goodwill, not only for Santa, but everyone else. And the presentless families, far from being miserable, rediscover the joy of family and companionship. And they do get their presents in the end, so all's well that ends well. The result is a genuinely uplifting story that parents can use to talk to their children about materialism and the big difference between what we want and what we need. Adults might want to have the same conversation with other adults, too!

The book also does a wonderful job in raising awareness about depression and mental health generally. It's subtle and gentle so won't scare any little person horses but it does open the door to some early discussion about the invisible ways we can be unwell. I liked the kind and quiet way Vanston went about this.

Santa Goes on Strike will be a joy to share on family occasions. The rhyming text scans beautifully and even a clodhopping reader aloud such as me will be able to find its rhythm. And there is a lot of delicious alliteration and fanciful imagery: Silence settled with the snow/As snowflakes tickled reindeer toe. Jay Rixon's illustrations of Vanston's designs are bright and impactful with plenty of detail to pore over. I particularly enjoyed the very expressive eyes of all the reindeer, shocked to their very cores at the idea of Santa on strike.

Here at Bookbag, we're happy to recommend Santa Goes on Strike as a seasonal sharing read. It's thoughtful and kind with some clear messaging. And, most importantly, it's fun.

If Santa Goes on Strike appeals, you might also enjoy The Naughtiest Reindeer by Nicki Greenberg - when Rudolf is ill on Christmas Eve there is only one other red-nosed reindeer to turn to, his little sister Ruby.

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Buy Santa Goes on Strike by Jem Vanston at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Santa Goes on Strike by Jem Vanston at


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