Review Blog

Nov 25 2015

Santa Claus is coming to town by Haven Gillespie and J Fred Coates

cover image

Ill. by Nathaniel Eckstrom, performed by Human Nature. Scholastic, 2015 (1934). ISBN 9781743626405
(Age: 4+) Recommended. I was surprised reading in the publications page that this was first recorded in 1934. It is such a well known song, heard often in supermarkets, shopping malls and shopping venues at Christmas time, that I assumed it was much older. The jauntily performed version by Human Nature that accompanies the book will be well used in the classroom, and will provide the opportunity for the children to compare it with older, European carols and songs.
The song, asking the animals to be careful as Santa is about, tells them that they must be on their best behaviour. He is making a list and checking it twice to ensure the children have behaved well over the past twelve months.
The colourful, exciting illustrations certainly add to the known words, as the animals make their way through the book. The bear beats his drum, sometimes balancing on a toy train as he warns the other animals. A lion with an amazing explosion of hair shakes the tambourine, while a giraffe peers down from on high. Children will laugh out loud watching the antics of the various animals through the book, love to play instruments along the journey taken by the illustrations, and yell out the refrain, Santa Claus is coming to town, when it appears. I can imagine children joining in from the start, reading the words loudly, tapping their feet and singing along with the CD, the whole a joyous cacophony of sound between children, CD, the book and teacher.
So popular was this little song that when first performed on Eddie Cantor's radio show in 1934, it sold 100,000 copies of sheet music and 20,000 records within twenty four hours.
This book will join all the others produced at this time of the year, and be well used.
Fran Knight

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