Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 01 Dec 2023

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? By Marc Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

There are some great imponderables in the world that we all want the answer to. Why does the toast you’ve just knocked off the kitchen counter always fall butter down? Why does it always rain in Wales? Why do England always lose at penalty shoot-outs? How do you keep houseplants alive? You know the sort of thing.

But I defy anyone to tell me that they haven’t at some point confronted the most intractable of all mysteries: how does Santa go down the chimney? He’s a big, fat, jolly man in a red suit and most chimney pots are considerably smaller than he is – so what the heck is going on?

Well, these seem to be the sort of questions Marc Barnett has been asking himself and he’s recruited the ever-wonderful Jon Klassen to help with his speculations. The result is a feast of chuckle-worthy possibilities that should cover just about ever bright idea you yourself will have had. Does he shrink? Turn his limbs to string? Maybe become a small fire flame?

And, of course, there’s always the very important issue of laundry. Does he have to get himself clean after every chimney? And what about the house that doesn’t have a chimney? Maybe he has some secret knowledge of where the spare key is kept or perhaps like Flat Stanley he can slide himself under the gap of the front door.

Then there’s the thorny question of what he does about the dogs. Maybe they all love him enough to give him a warm welcome rather than making a racket. 

Do you leave him a lovely mince pie to keep him going? Well, Marc Barnett wonders whether leaving him carrots might be better – just to help him see better in the dark, you understand.

It’s all a mystery and ultimately:

“Santa goes up the chimney the same way he came down.

And I have no idea how Santa does that.

But I’m so glad he can.”

With Christmas present-buying season hoving into view, this book would be a wonderful present for a young reader – and, don’t worry, there are no spoilers here for the very young about whether Father Christmas is real or not. It will be a perfect book to read with your child in bed and Jon Klassen’s illustrations will give you plenty more to talk about.

Published by Walker Books, you will be able to get this from your local independent bookshop – who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have it on their shelves. 

Terry Potter

December 2023