Santa Camp is a whimsical fantasy telling the story of how Santa Claus is planning to retire and is looking to find his replacement.
In Part I, the story begins when impish young Nate loses a tooth on Christmas Eve. In the middle of the night, Nate discovers Santa and the Tooth Fairy together in Nate’s living room where Nate learns some shocking news about the two visitors.
Among other things, Santa reveals that he’s planning to retire and asks Nate to come to a week-long Santa Camp to compete for the position.
In Part II, Nate goes to Santa Camp along with seven other boys. At camp, we meet Randy the Elf, learn more about Rudolph, discover how reindeer fly, and follow the eight boys as they endure various tests and training to see which one has the “right stuff” to be the next Santa. One by one, the boys are eliminated until only three remain. Nate, and two others, are invited to accompany Santa on a ride-along during the next Christmas Eve.
In Part III, Santa and the boys prepare for the big night. After departing the North Pole with eight reindeer and a sleigh full of presents – and after an unplanned stop – things go terribly wrong and, on Nate’s final test, Christmas teeters near disaster. Can Nate save the day?
by BookLife Reviews
Young readers will find a heap of laughs in Strobl’s entertaining debut as Nate, and his sister Olivia unravel the mysteries behind Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. When Nate loses a tooth on Christmas Eve, he’s concerned whether both Santa and the Tooth Fairy will visit his house in the same night—and on top of those worries, he’s also uncertain if he’ll make the nice list—or be stuck with no presents on Christmas morning. Luckily, the two legends each make an appearance, but Nate’s shocked when they reveal secret info about their relationship—and that they need his help to find a replacement for Santa so that jolly old elf can finally retire.
Nate, of course, agrees to lend Santa a hand (what young boy wouldn’t jump at the chance to attend Santa camp and train to be the next St. Nick?), and Strobl delivers plenty of merrymaking along the way. Spoiler alert: Rudolph may be a superstar, but he’s grossly out of shape—and Santa’s understudies gain access to some seriously high-tech training equipment, including a state-of-the-art Sleigh Simulation Center and magical oats (that cause some problems for the more mischievous boys in the group). The Tooth Fairy’s hunting a replacement, too, and Olivia shows enough promise that she earns a ticket to camp alongside Nate, giving the story some holiday parallels that are equally hilarious and creative, particularly when the girls-in-training flub their first attempt at tooth gathering.
The action culminates with Nate and two other boys in the top of his class earning a ride-along with Santa on Christmas Eve. Of course, it doesn’t go according to plan, and Nate somewhat predictably saves the day, but the hijinks and bumps in the road result in an exciting night. Piwowarski’s black and white sketches capture the mirth as well as the magic, making this a well-rounded, amusing holiday tale.
Great for fans of Michael Fry’s “The Naughty List” & Jonathan Emmett’s “The Santa Trap.”