Thursday, December 19, 2013

You don't know Jack...neither did Santa!

Quote of the Day:

"Christmas, my child, is love in action."

                              ~Dale Evans Rogers

Title:  How Murray Saved Christmas
Author:  Mike Reiss
Illustrator: David Catrow

You are going to love, love this book.  It will have you rolling with laughter as you share the story of an out-of-commision Santa and his stand-in, Murray Kleiner, a cranky,  Jewish deli owner who steps in to substitute for the real thing.

Poor Santa is completely knocked out cold when he investigates a toy handed him.  It is a Jack-in-the-boxer and it delivers quite a punch.  Santa hits the floor with a thud and is unable to function and perform his Christmas Eve duties.  His distraught, worried elf contacts Murray, the deli owner and pleads for his help.  Murray reluctantly agrees to the plan and that's when the fun begins.

 Murray doesn't fit well into Santa's red suit (it's way too big), he smells like a pickle and he cannot even accurately name the reindeer.  He calls then Jumbo, Dumbo and Richard M. Nixon just to give you a sample of the wit and humour you are about to encounter).  The rhyming beat will have you moving along with the storyline and the illustrations are hilarious and perfect in all ways.  The comicality is offbeat and you (the adult) will get a kick out of the book just as much as your child who is being read to.  It is a great twist on "The Night Before Christmas", and even more zany if accents are added to the characters when you read the book aloud.  I particularly loved the ending when testy Murray adds a new dimension to Christmas Eve by giving presents to the naughty boys and girls too, proving his heart is kind and tender and everyone should be included in the magical night of gift giving.  Santa Murray spreads cheer throughout the land on behalf of beloved Santa Claus who we hope will be fit to resume his duties again next year giving Murray the night off.

About the author:

David Catrow's favorite subject in school was math. Why? Well, Mr. Hirsch's class was where Catrow did some of his best drawings! Catrow's zany illustrations have illuminated over 30 books for kids, and his editorial cartoons are syndicated in more than 900 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Not bad for someone who started out as a pre-med major at Kent State and later worked as a paramedic for ten years. During this time Catrow also worked as a freelance artist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon-Journal. Art finally emerged as his definitive career, and he's never stopped since.
Catrow's illustrations in Stand TallMolly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell make you fall instantly in love with the short, clumsy, and buck toothed Molly Lou. He continues his spirited style of illustration in his newest book, We the Kids. In this book, Catrow makes understanding the Preamble to the Constitution accessible to children and even fun!
His work in She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head earned Catrow recognition when it was named the New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year in 1995. Catrow's watercolor and crayon illustrations for Take Me Out of the Bathtub, a collection of sing along traditional tunes set to loopy new lyrics, were praised for their cartoon-like absurdity and outlandish nature. And his slimy and goopy illustrations of a school science project gone awry in The Fungus That Ate My School make you want run for your life! Catrow's clever Dr. Seuss-like lively fungus overtakes a whole school while morphing itself into familiar school staff members it's a laugh aloud read at its best!
This amusing illustrator and his wife, Deborah, live in Ohio and have two children. When asked what would be the one thing he would like to learn to do, Catrow replied that he'd like to learn to catch a Frisbee with his teeth! It's this same offbeat sense of humor that truly colors his art. There's no doubt that Catrow's work has brought chuckles, smiles and even smirks to the young and old.

                Book Review Rating:  9  (Close to perfection!)  

Read on and read always!  Have an excellent day everyone!  Please chat to me and leave me a comment.  I would love to hear from you. What is your favourite Christmas book to read to your kids?
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