The Santa Claus League by Stephen Miller
(Summary taken from the back cover of the book) "Twas the night before Christmas...Julia Martin is the most incredible girl in school, and Mason Howell is hopelessly smitten by her. Julia is in charge of the local Charity Christmas party and she's pleased at how well everything is going...until her Santa Claus calls in sick. In a panic, she begs Mason to help her by wearing his grandfather's heirloom Santa Claus suit. Mason agrees, to impress the beautiful girl, but things don't go as planned...as soon as he puts on the suit, he gets all the powers of Santa Claus! Together with John Patton, Mason's best friend, they learn his grandfather was a member of an ancient league of men and women dedicated to helping St. Nicholas use Christmas magic to save the world. The three of them could become the newest members of the Santa Claus League...if they can learn the secrets of Christmas magic!"
This book is so much fun! I really enjoyed it. It is a fast, easy read (I read it in a couple of hours.), and is a lot of fun. The characters are well done and mostly believable. There are a few minor things in their characteristics that aren't fully realistic, but it didn't distract from the story. Mason and John have a good relationship and I liked both of them. I liked Mason's sense of humor and John's excitement for life. I thought Julia was a really cute character and was the perfect fit with Mason and John. This book takes a lot of questions regarding Santa Claus and explains them....in a fun and exciting way. It is great for both boys (lots of action and getting away from bad guys) and girls (Julia is sweet and there's some kissing action going on). There is a hint of a Christian theme in the book; they talk about prayers at meetings and things, but it is not overpowering and is not a part of the main story line. I love how it explains Santa and I love the Santa Claus suit. I loved the descriptions of the smells and sounds surrounding Christmas, and how each person had an individual scent and feeling surrounding him or her. John's car is amazing and so creative, and I loved the Rudolph explanation as well. This book doesn't give away any Christmas magic, but it explains it well, so it is safe for believers and non-believers alike. I'm going to turn it over to both my boys (12 and 10) and I think they will both enjoy it. I am glad it's clean and that the characters purposefully try not to hurt anyone. This is a great Christmas book and I recommend it. It is entertaining and fun.
Rating: PG (Some minor violence, some scary bad guys, and some kissing)
Recommendation: 4th grade and up (If that 4th grader is ok with some kissing. The characters are 17.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.