Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty

One of the 5Family's Christmas traditions is getting out our Christmas Library. 

It started when the Bud was born. Every year we have added books to this special collection we enjoy together each year.

Dear Santasauraus by Stacy McAnulty is a perfect title to add to the 5Family Christmas Library!

What it's about in one sentence: Young Ernest the dinosaur writes to Santasaurus first as a thank you for his Christmas gift, but then continues writing letters throughout the year all the way to the next Christmas.

I love that Ernest reminds me of a few little dinosaurs I know!

Stacy finished 5 of my sentences. I wrote the words in purple.

Ernest is… not earnest at all. He’s a mischievous little spinosaurus, who loves to have fun but often makes mistakes. (Side note: The name Ernest fits so well, but it wasn’t originally chosen because of his personality. Ernest is named for Ernst Stromer; the paleontologist who discovered the first spinosaurus.)

Writing to Santa…is something I wish I still did. Sure, I did it as a kid, asking for presents and politely inquiring about Rudolph’s and Mrs. Claus’ well-being. But I think it would be really fun (and funny) if I had continued it through my life. What did 16-year-old me wish for? What did 22-year-old me do that might have put me on the naughty list? I think I’ll write Santa a letter this year and just tuck it away in a drawer. It’ll be fun in 10 years to see what 2013 me wanted.

The most unique Christmas tradition…is our Christmas Eve book gift. My husband and I only give our children one present each year (Santa does the rest). And it’s the same thing every year. A book! We pick the perfect hardcover book for each child and then we write the date and a special message inside. We hope they will always have these books and can share them with their own families some day. The books range from picture books to classics like Heidi to cook books.

The best thing about making picture transforming a fun idea into something that makes kids smile. My favorite sound is a child laughing, and that’s my goal when I’m creating picture books. Kids love to laugh but they’re still a tough audience. (I’ve read stories to a class where I don’t even get a chuckle. That’s heart crushing.) When I’m in the rewriting stage of manuscript I really focus on having a laugh per page. This can be in the text or left to the illustrator. Obviously, it works best when the words and art tell the jokes together.

I would also like to tell you about…some of the little-known fun facts about the book.
1. I met the editor who acquired the book on my birthday.
2. It took 3 years from when the editor bought the book to when it hit bookstores.
3. Ernest’s name changed three times. He was John, then Ernest, then Finn, then Ernest again.
4. Ernest’s kid sister, Amber, had a name change too.

5. Six of the dates on Ernest’s letters to Santasaurus coincide with family birthdays.

Stacy is celebrating by sharing a different cookie recipe each day of the Dear Santasaurus blog tour.

Visit her blog at for the recipe and more information about other stops on the Dear Santasaurus Blog Tour.

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