An Unseasonal ARC Haiku Review: Santa Clauses…


Welcome one and all to our unseasonably jolly post! It’s Mad Martha with you today, bringing you an early Christmas present – Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chuck Groenink!  Despite having verbal first names in common, these two clever blokes have combined their talents to create an eye-soothing Christmas miracle of a picture book, filled with haiku to enhance the poetical pleasure of your preparations for the big, exciting, big, stressful, exciting, big celebration that is Christmas.

The book opens on December 1st, with a haiku-ish weather report accompanied by Santa (in casual attire) amidst a snowstorm of just-delivered mail.  From there we are treated to a haiku a day, covering all the bustle and administrational organisation that goes on at the North Pole in preparation for that night of nights.  Who would have thought that Santa himself is subjected to the trifling annoyances of the season, such as untangling festive lights and replacing faulty bulbs? Other poems inform us that Santa and his Northern folk also partake of the more joyful traditions of the season, including stringing popcorn garlands and sharing favourite Christmas stories beside the fire (or in the barn!).

santa clauses

Advent calendar

of haiku will be our new

yearly tradition

As lovers of haiku, we around the shelf were overjoyed to find this beuatiful new rendering of the familiar lead-up to Christmas type of book.  It’s such a simple idea and a fantastic way to introduce children to this form of poetry.  I suspect parents will enjoy it also, given that it provides a nice break from having to read rhyming stories about Santa repeatedly from September onwards!  So the haiku format was always going to be a winner for us, but the icing on the cake is the amazing quality of illustration that Chuck Groenink has achieved.  The pictures are soft and inviting and but still reflect the mystery and anticipation of the season.  For someone living in the (blistering) Southern Hemisphere, Christmasy books that emphasise the snowiness that we don’t experience here can often feel a little bit annoyingly exclusive, but Groenink’s imagery conveys the comfort of familiar family traditions and the atmosphere of a little community coming together drew us in as something we could connect with, rather than emphasising our lack of cold at Christmas time.


We at the shelf love this book so much that we are going to buy it in hardcover and begin a new pre-Christmas advent ritual of reading it in the run-up to Christmas.  Much more satisfying than that Elf on the Shelf business. Does anyone else find that Elf a little bit disturbing? Like a little malevolent minion watching all that’s going on…with his eyes…always watching.  It’s all a bit too 1984 for me (the book, not the period in history).  We suggest that you do the same and bring a bit of haiku into the Christmas season.

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole is released on September 1st, so you have plenty of time to acquire it before December!

Cheerio my dears,

Mad Martha

*I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

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Secret Santa Squirrels: A Cheeky Christmas Haiku Review…


Feliz Navidad munchkins! It’s Mad Martha with you today playing the role of jolly little elf, with a haiku review of a cheeky Christmas-y picture book, just in the nick of time before the big event.  Carefree, pint-sized author Hazel Nutt asked whether I wouldn’t let you all know about this little gem and I have agreed, so without further adieu, I present to you, Secret Santa Squirrels!

secret santa squirrels

This book attempts to answer the age-old question: How does Santa deliver so many presents in just one night?  Does he use magic? A high-powered stocking-seeking present missile? Unmanned drones?


Apparently it’s a combination of reindeer droppings and squirrel magic.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming!  Here is an image of the beginning of the process:

reindeer poo

And I can assure you, those aren’t chocolate rumballs being cheerfully cast aloft by those reindeer.

I will allow you to discover the details for yourself as you delve into this short, sweet, rhyming picture book, but allow me to say, it appears that Santa is onto a pretty eco-friendly and labour efficient method here.

Christmas news just in!

Think your gifts just appeared there?

Kindly wash your hands.

While some of the scanning in the rhymes is a little bit stilted, subversive kids of all ages will love the idea that their presents were once poo.  This would be a great pre-Christmas giggle for any slightly cynical little elves in your dwelling.

And for those who live in countries that don’t have squirrels – mine being one of them – I have been assured by the author that there is an entire underground network of creatures that take on local work for Santa at this time of year.  Sharp-eyed Australian and Kiwi residents might even spot some possums fulfilling poo-to-present duties if they glance out at the right moment on Christmas eve.

It’s available at Amazon if you want to be the first in your community to crack this Christmas secret wide open.

Ciao for now chums,

Mad Martha

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Holiday WINNING!: Kid LIt Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza…


kidlit giveaway hop extravaganza button

Hello all!  I am super excited to provide you with a chance for some holiday-related WINNING via the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza brought to you by good folks at Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews.  The giveaway runs from December 6th to 13th and there are lots of bloggers on the hop giving away holiday or winter themed books, gift cards, and all sorts, so don’t forget to hop around to exponentially increase your chances of acquiring free stuff.

I am going to offer one lucky winner their choice of one of two books that would have featured in my Christmas Lucky Dip feature, had I bothered to compile one.  These brilliantly bizarre tomes really sum up what Christmas is all about in my mind – terrified children being force-photographed with a stranger disguised with a false moustache and beard, and rodents in fancy dress.

Click on the book covers to be taken to their respective Goodreads pages.

scared of santaGoodreads synopsis:

Nothing says Christmas quite like innocent children shrieking with terror as a stranger dressed in red drags them kicking and screaming onto his lap. Now this time-honored rite of passage is celebrated with a hilarious collection of more than two hundred and fifty priceless photos of kids’ traumatic trips to Santa’s workshop. Scared of Santa offers a cornucopia of photographic funnies—from sixty-year-old family heirlooms to last year’s howlers—along with delightful commentary on those unforgettable childhood visits to scary ol’ Saint Nick.

guinea pig nativityGoodreads synopsis:

You know the story …Mary and Joseph make the journey to Bethlehem, only to find there’s no room at the inn. Then along come angels, shepherds and three kings from afar to worship the baby Jesus in the manger. A Guinea Pig Nativity is the classic Christmas story as you’ve never seen it before: with (you guessed it) guinea pigs photographed in the starring roles.

Here’s the skinny on the giveaway:

– The giveaway is open Worldwide, provided you live in a country to which the Book Depository will ship for free.  If you’re not sure, you can check out the list here.

– One winner will be chosen at random and will have 48 hours to respond to a congratulatory email before a redraw will occur.

– The winner can choose ONE of the two books as their prize. Not both. Don’t be greedy.

– The giveaway is in no way related to WordPress, Goodreads, The Book Depository, Rafflecopter, Facebook or any other individual or company that is not me.

– I will be checking entries, so be honest.

**Please note: it is highly unlikely that the winner will receive their prize in time for Christmas this year. For that reason, I’ve chosen books that can no doubt be enjoyed all year round! **

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click the link below to hop along to the other blogs and see what goodies are on offer.

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Until next time,


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The gargoyle appeals to the fat man in red…


It is almost unfathomable to think that there exists a kit designed for the individual to create their own lending library at home, and I was not informed.  The shelf gargoyle communication network has seriously dropped the ball on this one.

Yet I am prepared to forgive – and present to you this little gem, complete with stamps, cards, pockets…and the power to fine those who do not return your books!

It is available at ThinkGeek…here:

Laybuy now for Christmas.