An Elk Dropped in by Andreas Steinhöfel

This is why libraries and bookstores have special sections, tables, endcaps, etc. I was running into the library to pick up a book I had reserved when An Elk Dropped in caught my eye.  A quick look and I was intrigued. Here is the publisher’s blurb:

An unexpected visitor makes Christmas special for a little boy. While performing a trial run for Santa Claus – the reindeer are far too dainty and aloof for such risky business – Mr. Moose goes off course and crashes through the roof of Billy Wagner’s house, injuring his leg. There’s nothing to do but to stay there until he recovers, regaling the family with stories until Father Christmas comes to get him. Billy’s fascination with Mr. Moose lifts the little boy’s spirits as he faces a new year of hope. This perennial best-seller in Germany will bring Christmas cheer to all readers.

A translated holiday story with charming illustrations? Yes, I will pick that up for the family. I read it last night and found it to be a quirky and enjoyable story.

I like the way the story blends in the miraculous nature of a talking moose who helps train Santa’s sleigh with the more mundane aspects of life: Billy’s know-it-all sister, his newly divorced mom’s feminist friend and her scarves, the helpful but nosey neighbor, etc.  The illustrations match this blend – sophisticated watercolors that have a cartoon quality. Billy is a likable character and his connection with Mr. Moose is charming; even if the bring back the divorced parents theme is somewhat over-done in the end. Even Know-it-all Kiki is endearing with her love of science and knowledge even as applied to something like Father Christmas and talking moose.

Little things make the story witty and realistic. The way the family feed grandma’s coconut biscuits to the ducks because she always burns them. How Billy fears his dark secret – breaking the neighbors eggs – will come out and ruin his Christmas.  How Mrs. Wagner’s motherly instincts kick in as they take care of Mr. Moose; and how much the family appreciates having a “pet” no matter how temporary and unique. Santa Clause as a rather brusque and demanding figure was a nice touch.

So if you are looking for something different for bedtime reading during the holidays check this one out.  A quirky story perfect as a short story for adults or to be read out loud with children.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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