MEGAN AND JACKIE listened to the Eminem song her brother
had loaded on her mother’s defunct iPhone. Jackie stared at the phone
while lying on the floor in front of a plastic corral and plastic horses.
Megan continued feeding her horse on her Nintendo DSi.
“My brother loaded me with five hundred songs.”
Megan was humming Joy to the World and thought Eminem yelled
a lot. She was asking for an iPod for Christmas she would load with
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, and Hannah Montana. She didn’t really
care for the rappers that Jackie said were really cool.
“My brother told me something.”
“What’s that?” Megan murmured, waiting for Gumballs to tap
Jackie looked to the door they had closed with the NO TRESPASSING
SIGN taped outside. Jackie flicked her long hair back. She
had just turned ten and had pierced ears and wore makeup, although
the makeup smudged her eyes and the lipstick made her look like a
clown. She leaned in. “Nathan says that Santa Claus isn’t real.”
Megan put down her DSi and looked at her friend. “Who leaves
the presents then?”
“My brother says it’s our parents.”
Megan returned to her horse and began giving him water. “I don’t
see how they could buy all those presents without anyone seeing
“My brother says they hide them, and he found his iPod before
Santa even brought it!”
Megan continued feeding. She had been thinking about Mrs.
Worthington’s declaration that the North Pole was too harsh for
“I don’t think that is true. My father doesn’t believe in myths or
even religion. He says he always will tell me the truth. Besides, they
don’t have enough money for all the presents.”
“Oh, well, that’s fine,” Jackie said, shrugging, holding up Kanye
West and singing along to an unintelligible lyric.
“You’d think he would be on YouTube if he was real,” Megan
continued, and then a thought occurred to her. “Does your phone
have a video camera?”
Megan paused. “Then this is what I’m going to do! I’m going to
stay up and wait for Santa and videotape him and put him on YouTube
for the whole world to see!”
Jackie looked doubtful.
“My mom would kill me if I tried to stay up late.”
“I’ll bet my parents will even let me use their video camera, and
I’ll set my alarm so I wake every hour and I’ll check downstairs until
I catch him!”
Jackie was bobbing again to the music.
Megan tapped her DSi pointer against her teeth.
“But first I’ll ask my mom.”
“You mean if you can stay up?”
“No. I’ll ask her if she and Dad are Santa Claus.”
Order Real Santa
"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It's a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George's idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done."
Starred Review Booklist
"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry.It's not as frenetic as Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel or as maudlin as all those holiday staples (read: A Christmas Story), but adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."
"Charming...Hazelgrove has real compassion for his characters." Chicago Tribune