If you are looking for some light, seasonal reading you can share with your kiddos, this is it. If you want a faith-filled, childlike fairy tale, The Legend of Santa Claus is it. But, if you’re looking for a surprise, a twist or a crazy scary happening, this Christmas Chronicle is not for you.

The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover is narrated by the author and began with his annual trip into the mountains to cut pine boughs to decorate the house for the holidays. The wife and two sons were too busy, so he made the trip alone and, what to his wondering eyes should appear, but a sleigh with a scientist and eight tiny reindeer.

 Slover is a writer and professor of theater in Utah. His detailed descriptions of the ancient woodcarver Klaus from the middle ages, his perfectly capable wife Anna, their pet reindeer Dasher and arch enemy Rolf offers a feel-good tale for the family, with only a couple sad sacks.

Spoiler alert: Dasher dies, but Ranulf – a scarlet reindeer with a plain, nonglowing nose – steps up to lead the sleigh.

 I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking this is the same ol’, same ol’ Santa Claus story. Klaus and Anna are saint-like and consort with actual saints in their ventures. The pair’s love story is one for the legends with hearty ho-ho-hos and a wife’s tricks on her young love to get a new house even before the wedding.

Klaus’ bachelor’s lair becomes a home for unwed woodcarvers and toymakers, a virtual elves’ den, if you will. The pageantry and descriptive stitchery offered by Anna are a sight to behold, even without photographs or drawings, you are transported into the medieval stories of warring villages and animal rivalry.

 The readers in our book club were all equally enchanted by Slover’s tale, describing it as a light read, but with some depth. “Year by year,” one reader quoted from the book, “you have to remind the world it has a heart.” Slover’s book does that. The Santa-Anna  (I had to get that reference in somewhere) love connectionand the handmade toys give the tale a human nature. The flying reindeer and giant house add the touch of whimsy Santa Claus, or Klaus in this case, require.

But life is not all sunshine and roses, another reader pointed out. The book made you smile, laugh and appreciate the real Santa Claus, but still lends  some air of sadness and fear. We’d cast Tom Hanks or Kurt Russell as Klaus and Sally Fields as Anna, with Johnny Depp as the evil Rolf. Depp could play both parts in my movie version of the book.  He’s that talented and that attractive.

If you’ve seen The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix already this season (I have), it’s really not the same, but there are elements of goodwill and surprise in both. It’s a feel-good seasonal escape, one we might all enjoy like a Hallmark Christmas movie.

 Like the Hallmark channel, you either love it or you hate it, but the movies are certainly predictable. This book is not, and to me, that is its redeeming quality.

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