A story in the Christmas-gone-wrong tradition, Santa’s Sleigh-Train gives young readers a chance to watch Santa problem-solve when Rudolph falls ill.
The story opens with Santa realizing he has too many presents to deliver this year—a predicament only made worse when Rudolph arrives, sneezing and frail. Santa sends Rudolph away to get rest and begins to wonder how he can possibly get presents to everyone. Then he notices a toy train and decides to use magic to enlarge it. He loads his sleigh onto the train and takes a cavalcade of elves and reindeer with him to enjoy the ride. Finally, presents delivered, the group returns to the North Pole. The reindeer check on Rudolph and sing to him to cheer him up, and he promises to be healthy enough to help again next Christmas.
The book’s detailed illustrations are engaging, if a little unpolished, and the straightforward, simply written, plot is easy for even very young readers to follow, despite a few challenging words (such as “overloaded” and “infirmary”).
The story itself doesn’t bring anything entirely fresh to the genre of picture books featuring a threat to Christmas presents being delivered on time, and in fact the solutions feel a bit too easy: Santa doesn’t try out any other ideas before he lands on the train as the best one, and the solution is never shown to have unforeseen side effects. Indeed, the story suggests that even Rudolph’s very special nose is replaceable.
Enjoyable despite its lack of surprises, Santa’s Sleigh-Train gives Christmas lovers an unfussy tale of one more averted Christmas catastrophe.
Also available as an ebook.