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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus by Don Kennedy is Volume Three in the 25 Years of Santa Stories series. A collection of lovely, humorous, and heartfelt stories serves as an inside perspective on what children say to Santa, which ranges in tone from funny to off-the-wall unexpected to critiques to sweet. The book features chapters centered around specific locations such as military bases, hospitals, and women's and children's shelters. These locations blend humorous stories with heartbreaking situations that are eye-opening to different situations such as the loss of a military parent, human trafficking, and the loss of a home. The book also features letters to Santa, the jokes kids tell, questions about being Santa, playing the role of Santa in Hawaii, and what it was like being Santa during a pandemic. On the surface, this is a collection of simple stories of moments spent with different kids and the darndest things that they say, but underneath is a lovely collection with humor and heart set against our current climate.
These stories are set in Hawaii which creates an interesting background to playing Santa in a sunnier climate. As with previous books in this series, this one has a conversational tone as Don Kennedy shares these stories from his personal experiences with various insights and interjections of commentary throughout. The stories in Volume 3 are set during our present reality with Kennedy sharing stories about being Santa in a COVID world and with the war in Ukraine. Though these elements aren't the focal point of the book, you see the effects in the backgrounds of the stories which provide deeper meaning to some of the stories shared. Letters are incorporated which provide humor that can only come from the minds of children such as commenting about Santa's budget, promising to be “super better” next year, recommending a Santa letter app, and even emotional ones such as a child with nothing asking Santa for anything he could give right now. Each story ranges from heartwarming to humorous to can't-believe-that-kid-said-that which showcases the wide range of personalities and how kids can literally say the darndest things. Certain themes carry over with children's comments to Santa such as critiquing his fashion sense, pointing out his advanced age, and asking about his weight.
As a whole, this collection will put a smile on your face with a few favorite moments being when a child gave Santa a bag with masks and hand sanitizer so he won't get sick, a boy confused about "missletoes" (and if rockets have feet), a kid whose mommy is counting backward with her age, a kid struggling to figure out what zip it means (when his zipper is up), and one kid with his pants on backward. Kennedy also includes different questions about being Santa in a fun Q&A section which includes how much his suit cost, how many times he gets his beard pulled, being Santa during the pandemic, and being Santa in Hawaii. These stories are short and sweet and Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa: Volume Three succeeds in its purpose of making you smile with wholesome, unfiltered, humorous, heartfelt, and honest looks at the attitudes and quips of children that Santa meets.