REVIEW: Kids Say the Darndest Things, Vol 3

One Santa’s Look into Often Hilarious but Also Heartwarming & Loving Children

SYNOPSIS

Ever wonder what kids say to Santa Claus at Christmastime? Wonder what it would be like to don the Santa suit and portray jolly old Saint Nick? What happens when little ones have an “accident” while on Santa’s knee? Well, Santa Don, author Don Kennedy, is back with volume 3 of his award-winning series, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS TO SANTA CLAUS. Follow this volunteer Santa for the past almost 30 years as he visits with children and their families at military bases, children’s hospitals, women’s and children’s shelters, schools, churches, wildfire victim shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs and more. Just imagine what all he’s heard as little one’s share their holiday wish lists plus hopes, dreams, and sometimes sorrows. Enjoy over 350 stories in 23 chapters including The Naughty List, Young Love, The Doubters, The Very First Time – How It All Began, It Could Only Happen to Santa, Kids’ Jokes, Sibling Rivalry, A Q & A with Santa, Santa in a Pandemic, Letters to Santa and so much more. Get the behind the scenes look at the wonderful, magical world of children and Santa at Christmas. Get ready because SANTA TELLS ALL!!!

Let me start this review by saying that I have mad respect for anyone who takes up the mantle as a public Santa. There is a special relationship when a child opens up to these people that creates a safe space, even it’s just for a couple of minutes. To be heard and seen, even if it’s just for that moment, is so amazing and so giving.

The author, Don Kennedy, fills this position with great gusto and understanding. And in doing so, he has collected a lovely collection of stories in this volume of his series.

And what a lovely collection it is! Starting with the heartfelt letter from the military mom who would be spending the holiday separated from her children to the story of Santa’s closet and so many more, my heart strings felt especially tugged in the chapter about his visits to the military installations.

As an Army brat in the 80s, a veteran, and an Army spouse with kids, I remember the importance of having someone who was the same (essentially) everywhere we went. Nothing breaks a kid’s heart more than thinking Santa can’t find you when you’ve moved. So, Santa was really important. Even better, because most of my childhood Santas were military men with kids, and they really understood what we were going through.

But Mr. Kennedy doesn’t just show up for us. His flight path takes him to community centers (like the Boys and Girls Clubs) and emergency shelters, where Santa is a real treat and an annual bit of happiness in an otherwise harder life. Kudos to you, Santa Kennedy!

Not to mention the behind-the-scenes insights–who knew there was so much involved!–that let the reader see just what level of commitment Mr. Kennedy has given to his annual role. It gave a real human view to the whole experience.

While I appreciated how he uses a conversational writing style, I feel like it made the chapters rather jumbled. Easy to read? Sure, but long sentences and paragraphs forced me to reread some pages, as they were just solid, uninterrupted blocks of text. I’m not sure why it was necessary to add the whole ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’ poem as a few paragraphs of text, and while he credited the author, it just felt like filler in a book that didn’t need it.

And while I admit I got a kick out of the girl trying to bribe Santa with a $20 to adopt her younger brothers, the short paragraphs (1-2 sentences) of kids’ responses and/or requests take away from the emotional tug of these stories. I think I would’ve like it more if he’d just stuck with a dozen or so longer stories, a kin to the whole Chicken Soup for the Soul series. All tied together but individual, full stories.

I think this book–nay, the series–better would be a good editor or at the very least better organization of the stories. BUT!

BUT! Yes, there’s a but. This is worth the read. It’s heartwarming in a time where we are in dire need for hope for the future. You can see the goodness and love these kids have to offer, even when they’re in dire straits. And his ability to access this vulnerability without sounding pretentious or arrogant makes Mr. Kennedy my current favorite for Santa. And while no one in our house awaits his appearance, it’s awesome to see how much his reach impacts his target audience.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) through Reedsy Discovery.

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