Review: The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett

santa trap

The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Bradley Bartleby was born bad and as he got older, he got even more bad.  Bradley’s parents were immensely rich and gave Bradley everything he wanted because they were scared of him. Every year, Bradley would make an enormous list for Santa Claus but Santa knew about how bad Bradley was and never looked at the list, instead giving him a small token gift of socks.  Even though Bradley’s parents gave him everything he had put on his Christmas list, Bradley hated that Santa himself didn’t give him what he wanted.  So Bradley decided to build a trap for Santa.  He worked on it for a year, until by Christmas Eve his parents had moved out of the house because it was so dangerous.  Now all it would take was Bradley to stay awake and watch the trap work.  But staying up and waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve is notoriously difficult to do.

Emmett has created a holiday picture book with a lot of edge, plenty of weaponry and some pretty spectacular explosions.  This is a holiday book that will appeal to children who feel a bit too old for elves and reindeer.  Happily though, at the heart of the story there really is a Christmas spirit about what the real meaning of Christmas should be.  Emmett though does not let that ruin the fun, delighting in turning Christmas on its ear in this picture book.

The art by Bernatene works so well here.  It has plenty of zing and pop with its bold colors and modern feel.  One just has to look at the cover to know this is not your normal holiday book.  The illustrations were done digitally, adding to the modern feel, but they are also made warmer by brushstrokes showing on the images. 

A dynamic and very funny holiday book that will work particularly well for elementary-aged children who will delight in the weaponry, the trap, and the twist at the end.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from ARC received from Peachtree Publishers.

Washington Post Best Kids Books 2012

The Washington Post has a list of their reviewer’s picks for best kids books of the year.  I was struck by the number of nonfiction books on the list.  Here are the top picks:


And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracy Fern

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport


Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Clair A. Nivola

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose


Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath

Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue

Son by Lois Lowry


Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Angelfall–The Movie

I have yet to read Angelfall, a debut teen novel published by Amazon.  Susan Ee, author of the book, was courted by several publishers and chose to go with Amazon Children’s Publishing.  Her novel is on the bestseller list just after The Hunger Games. 

According to Movieline, movie rights for the series have been acquired by Good Universe.  The second book in the series is expected next fall.