Matt Tavares
Walker Books

In what is essentially a prequel, Matt Tavares tells how Santa acquired his ‘eight tiny reindeer’ made so famous in the Clement Clarke Moore poem A Visit from St. Nicholas.

In the beginning Santa’s sleigh was pulled by a horse named Silverbell.

Meanwhile young Dasher and her reindeer family are living a miserable life in a travelling circus and menagerie owned by the unkind Mr J.P. Finnegan. By night Dasher’s Mama would sometimes tell stories of her northern homeland, a magical place where “The air was crisp and cold, and the ground was always covered with a cool blanket of white snow.” Dasher is filled with a longing to visit this wonderful sounding place despite her mother’s warning about what Mr Finnegan would do should any of his animals attempt to escape.

One windy night as she wishes on the North Star, the little reindeer seizes her chance to make a break for freedom.

With the star as her guide she travels far and eventually comes upon Santa in the woods. He’s halted his sleigh in a clearing to allow Silverbell to take a break from pulling so heavy a load.
On hearing of the children likely to be heartbroken if the toys aren’t delivered on time, Dasher offers to help.

All night long they work …

and Santa rewards Dasher with a sight of the North Star and the granting of his “best wish yet.”

With Matt Tavares’ magical snowy present delivery scenes that are a stark contrast to the early circus ones, this is a story of wish fulfilment with a thoroughly satisfying happy ever after ending.

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