Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

When Santa Was a Baby

Bailey, Linda (Author)
Godbout, Geneviève (Illustrator)
Tundra Books 2015. 32 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781770495562 (hardcover)
9781770495586 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, recurring patterns

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

From his earliest babyhood, Santa Claus shows signs of being special. Instead of gurgles and coos, baby Santa lets loose a booming “Ho, ho, ho!”, rattling the window and scaring his parents. Toddler Santa is stubbornly attached to the colour red; “Maybe he’ll be a firefighter,” his parents muse. But when he receives a fire truck as a gift, instead of playing with it, he wraps it back up and adds it to a sack, along with his other presents, distributing the lot to the neighbourhood children. He harnesses hamsters to a matchbox sleigh, thrives in the cold and grows a precocious belly: Santa’s not like the other kids, but he has the unwavering support of his parents, who think him creative, generous and wonderful. Santa follows his childhood dream and, well, the rest is history.

This whimsical story is simply but elegantly narrated in the third person; the short texts and plentiful dialogue maintain a brisk momentum.

Drawn in soft pencil against pale backgrounds, the full, double-spread illustrations develop a character who is merry from his first days. With a nose “like a cherry,” a perpetual smile and a belly “like two bowls of jelly” to match his dad’s, the portraits are apt and spirited. Whether showing wee Santa cheerfully handing out his own presents or perplexingly shaking soot off his socks—which are red, of course—after some early chimney adventures, the drawings evoke a joy that is visually contagious and help tell the story of the best kind of destiny: we become who we are born to be.

  •  

    Examine the front and back covers. Make predictions, then adjust your thinking as you read.

  •  

    Take a picture walk through the book. What do you notice in the illustrations that remind you of Santa as a grown-up?

  •  Compare Santa in this book with Santa in other stories you know. As a class, make a character map or graphic organizer to record your observations.
  •  

    Draw and write about yourself as a baby. Compile a class book that you can read together.

  •  

    Examine the book cover. Brainstorm what Santa might have been like as a baby.

  •  

    Discuss how this story is similar to others you know.

  •  

    Compare and contrast the young Santa with Santa in The Night Before Christmas.

  •  

    Ask your parents and write about how you were as a baby in the situations presented in the book. Write a new story in the same style entitled When___Was a Baby.

  • Media Literacy
  • Personal and Career Planning