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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus by Don Kennedy is a charming and delightful collection of various moments he has experienced volunteering as Santa Claus. After a friend got sick and he filled in as Santa Claus for a Christmas party, Kennedy found an unexpected passion that would stay with him through the next several years. Kennedy has gathered together several memorable moments from kids that are funny and heartwarming while at times being heartbreaking and eye-opening, taken from his time volunteering for organizations such as fire shelters, hospitals, military bases, and women’s shelters.
On the surface, the book is a simple read that shares quick moments with kids that have made an impact on Don Kennedy when he was Santa, but this also serves as a great eye-opener and reminder about the Christmas spirit and hope that is inspired through these children. Each moment that Kennedy shares is a great example of the role Santa plays in the lives of children. Several moments included are funny while others are touching and will tug at the heart. The humor is delightful in an innocent way such as trying to pay their way off the naughty list, siblings telling on each other, or a boy calling his sister a pain. Kennedy perfectly captures how blunt and innocent kids are through the wonderful and special way they see the world around them.
The structure is organized based on the different locations that Kennedy has volunteered at. Each chapter explores various needs the children have from humorous concerns about the naughty list to more heartwarming needs such as wanting their soldier dad to come home. These heartful moments are deeply emotional with kids showing their wit and their heart which include charming moments such as asking Santa to dance with their mom because she’s been sad, wanting to visit a man in the hospital who doesn’t get visitors, and wanting to send a letter to heaven. Kennedy also shares a few personal stories during his time as Santa such as being pulled over by a cop, being puked on, getting diet advice, and the touching moments he’s been part of.
Kennedy’s stories are perfect for the holiday season and though it focuses primarily on the Christmas season, Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus is perfect for any time of year. Each moment spent with the children provides hope and the need to have something special to believe in to get through tough times like deployment, illness, and other difficult situations. The humorous and heartwarming moments will make you smile and warm your heart.