Real Santa Gets Rave Reviews Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly

Sep 25, 2014 by

Kirkus Loves “Real Santa”

Published September 23, 2014

REAL SANTA Author: William Hazelgrove

Review Issue Date: October 15, 2014 Online Publish Date: September 28, 2014 Publisher: Koehler Books Pages: 244 Price ( Hardcover ): $26.95 Price ( e-book ): $7.99 Publication Date: October 1, 2014 ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-940192-96-3 ISBN ( e-book ): 978-1-940192-59-8 Category: Fiction




In a fit of inspired insanity, a laid-off suburban father decides to prove to his 9-year-old daughter that there really is a Santa Claus. Never doubt the determination of a mad scientist and his plans. In this sixth novel from prolific writer and blogger Hazelgrove (The Pitcher, 2013, etc.), the author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. His protagonist is an aging engineer named George Krononfeldt who is promptly laid off from his firm for his increasingly cranky attitude. Simultaneously, his daughter Megan is slowly being poisoned of her belief in Christmas-y myths by her hateful teacher, Mrs. Worthington. “I will kick Santa squarely in the nuts once and for all,” she proclaims during one of her darker moments. Undetermined, George starts sketching out plans to give his daughter—who has inherited her father’s penchant for requiring empirical data to prove a coherent thesis—one more Christmas miracle. “I’m going to be the Real Santa,” George tells his father, whom he enlists in aid of the outlandish project. “I’m going to land a sled on the roof, go up the chimney, go down it, deliver the gifts, and then I’m going to get back in the sled and take off into the sky.” After spending more than $80,000 building a contraption that would rival a NASA launch and engaging the help of his estranged older son and daughter and a slightly mad Santa impersonator named “Kris Kringgle,” George does indeed take to the skies. It’s not as frenetic as Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel or as maudlin as all those holiday staples (read: A Christmas Story), but adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn’t lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires.

Booklist Gives Starred Review to William Hazelgrove’s “Real Santa”

Published August 13, 2014

“If somebody doesn’t make a movie out of this book, there’s something wrong with the world. Beautifully done.”

—Starred Booklist review



VIRGINIA BEACH — Booklist has given a starred review to William Hazelgrove’s Real Santa, due out in October. Real Santa is a funny heartwarming story of parenthood gone wrong and illuminates what lengths parents will go to keep their children happy.

FULL REVIEW “If somebody doesn’t make a movie out of this book, there’s something wrong with the world. George Kronenfeldt is an engineer who is, again, out of a job (he’s a good engineer but not a good employee)—and this time it’s right around Christmas. Faced with a bleak financial future, George seizes on a new project to keep him occupied: to convince his nine-year-old daughter that Santa is real. That sounds nice enough, until you realize it means Bob intends to dress up in a Santa suit, rent himself some reindeer and a sleigh, build ramps to get them on his roof, hire a movie director to whomp up some special-effects footage of the reindeer and sleigh landing and taking off, and generally tear his house (not to mention his family) apart. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It’s a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George’s idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done.” —Starred Review ALA Booklist




This sometimes humorous  yuletide novel from Hazelgrove (The Pitcher) concerns an exuberant father going all out to prove to his young daughter that Santa Claus is a real entity. Fifty-year-old George Kronenfeldt, a dogged bridge engineer living in Chicago, has been laid off 12 days before Christmas. More trouble follows when George learns his nine-year-old daughter, Megan, has serious doubts about Santa Claus. Rather than do the grown-up thing and admit Saint Nick is a myth, George decides to organize an elaborate hoax on Christmas Eve. George is also driven by the guilt he suffers from neglecting his children, although his spoiled son, Jeremy, and other daughter, Jamie, are almost adults. His patient wife, Mary, goes along with George’s big idea as he recruits his father, Kronenfeldt Sr., and Dean Sanders, a journeyman Australian movie director who likes to shout the exclamation “stupendous,” into the masquerade. Finally, George rents nine flatulent reindeers from Big Bill McGruff, and Mary’s patience finally runs out when her husband runs up a debt to the tune of a hundred grand to finance the spectacle. Meantime, George’s nemesis, Mrs. Barbara Worthington, who is Megan’s 70-year-old schoolteacher, delights in crushing her students’s joyful anticipation of Father Christmas. Hazelgrove’s lively, improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday

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Born in Richmond, Virginia, and carted back and forth between Virginia and Baltimore, I blame my rootless, restless personality on my father. He was and is a traveling salesman with a keen gift of gab, great wit, a ready joke, and could sell white tennis shoes to coal miners. [read more...]

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