Patty Pringle’s mother, Lucy, had a very secret job – her father said she worked for the CIA, but Patty firmly believed her mother’s stories about working for Santa Claus at the North Pole, and her promise that Patty too would follow in her footsteps one day. But her mother’s tragic death in a car accident has left her family sad and broken, her brother Sean angry and rebellious, her father withdrawn, and Patty herself overcome with grief. So Patty does the only thing she can think of – she goes to ask Santa for a job. But does she have the strength and the faith to save Christmas, and her loved ones?
If this book could sit on Santa’s lap, it would ask to be a made-for-TV holiday movie, somewhere between “Spy Kids” and “Miracle on 34th St.” It’s got all the right ingredients: a sad family, a spirited daughter, adventure, danger, cold-hearted villains, heartwarming heroism, and above all, belief in Santa. Nothing matters more, in this story, than believing in Santa, and in all the Jolly and goodwill he represents. The plot has some predictable aspects, down to characters’ names telegraphing their personal characteristics, but contains enough twists, turns and thrilling escapes to keep kids engaged and interested.
The story does experiment in entertaining ways with the old formula, adding amusing new technology, characters who aren’t quite what you’d expect, and a North Pole that’s as much “fortified war zone” as “jolly holiday craftworks.” Patty is a likeable heroine, just discovering her own courage and sense of self, with an appealing warmth of heart and determination to do what’s right. The end leaves plenty of promise for adventures to come, and since the book is subtitled “The First Mission,” presumably that promise will not go unfulfilled. The book could use a good edit and reformatting. though. The text is awfully small and cramped for young readers, the grammar fails on occasion – there are at least a couple of occasions where the author uses “your” for “you’re”, for example – and the illustrations appear amateurish and Photoshopped.
CHRIS KRINGLE’S COPS is like a warm plate of nachos – corny, cheesy, made to a not-very-complicated recipe, but reasonably tasty and satisfying nonetheless.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader