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Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno, illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer

Longtime children's book editor Maria Modugno brings her storytelling expertise to Santa Claus and the Three Bears, an absolutely charming new holiday picture book, illustrated by the mother-daughter team of Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer. The fairy tale mash-up of Santa meets the Three Bears is so brilliant, it's a wonder no one has thought of it sooner! And, while there seem to be a plethora of bears in picture books, there never seem to be enough polar bears, especially as illustrated by the Dyers.

Modugno keeps her story short and sweet, following the pattern of the original fairy tale. The three bears are introduced and the reader is treated to a bit of their holiday preparations, including an adorable illustration of Baby Bear sitting on the counter "helping" Mama Bear make the Christmas pudding. When the stockings are hung and the tree decorated, Mama Bear calls everyone to dinner. When the pudding is too hot, the family of bears sets out on a trek to see the Christmas lights. Meanwhile...

Santa Claus has finished delivering gifts to the Southern Hemisphere and half of the Northern Hemisphere when he touches down on the roof of the bears's house - all three are on his list. Santa eats the milk and cookies left out for him, but the Christmas pudding looks so warm and inviting.

With his belly full, Santa makes his way from chairs to beds in the hopes of recharging before finishing his deliveries for the night. The bears have the expected reactions to their missing pudding, broken chairs, unmade beds and unexpected visitor.

However, Santa is no Goldilocks. He begs the bears to promise not to tell anyone they saw him then he opens up his sack. In a wonderful twist, Baby Bear receives the biggest gift, with Mama Bear getting a middle-sized present and Papa Bear a "wee little present." Santa tells them that they must wait until morning to open their gifts and promises to return next year with a new chair for Baby Bear next year!

Other books by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer

I fell in love with Jane Dyer's illustrations back in 1992 when this collection of superb poetry for children, Talking Like the Rain, was published. 

Jane has also illustrated these contemporary classics...

While I usually eschew picture books that teach life lessons, Amy Krouse Rosenthal's COOKIES trilogy brilliantly introduces children to abstract concepts like empathy, patience, anticipation, charitable, gratitude, family and peace. I even read these books at story time when I was a bookseller. Dyer's illustrations are paired perfectly with the cookie baking concept Rosenthal uses to show the meanings of the words.  You can find a review of Christmas Cookies on my annually updated list, A Few of My Favorite Holiday Books.

Source: Review Copy


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