Miracle On 34th Street

adapted for picture book by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by James Newman Gray
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky October 2018
ISBN-10: 1492669865
ISBN-13: 978-1492669869

For a little girl named Susan, Christmas could be any other day. She doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or magic or miracles of any kind. Then one day she meets Kriss Kringle. As she doubtfully tells him the gifts she most wishes for, deep down Susan finds herself hoping that just maybe, he is the real thing. Based on the original holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street is a heartwarming story about generosity, imagination, and the spirit of Christmas.

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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade gets underway in New York with Santa sound asleep at the rear.Susan’s mother, in charge of the parade, quickly finds a replacement, who introduces himself as Kris Kringle. Welcomed to Thanksgiving dinner with Susan, her mother, and their neighbor Fred, he proclaims that he is the actual Santa Claus. Susan wants to believe him, but her mother has real doubts. The old man is convincing as the department-store Santa, talking to a diverse group of young visitors in different languages, including sign language. Eventually a judge settles the question of whether or not he’s Santa once and for all. A story that’s been adapted to many formats from cinema to radio to television since its publication as a novella by Davies in 1947, here it’s reworked by Hill for a picture-book audience. Gray’s soft-focus illustrations retain the flavor of 1940s New York while consciously developing a diverse cast of secondary characters including an interracial family and a black judge; Susan, her mother, Fred, and Kris Kringle are white, however. A rich palette and holiday-themed borders on some of the pages add to the comforting feel of the book. Inset boxes of illustrations with fuzzy edges re-create some of the cinematic qualities of previous adaptations.

A nice, new rendition of the familiar, touching story about the magic and power of belief. (Picture book. 3-6)