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Can't Wait Till Christmas! (2010)

Written by Mike Huckabee

Illustrated by Jed Henry

G.P. Putnam's Sons

Election season has been gearing up, and while everyone else has been distracted by Donald Trump's shenanigans, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the major players through the lens of picture books. First up is former Governor of Arkansas and current Republican nominee, Michael Dale Huckabee!

In 2010, Mike Huckabee authored this small Christmas-themed tome, "Can't Wait Till Christmas!" I must confess, I was surprised at how... secular of a tale it was. Huckabee is not one known for mincing words when it comes to religion, and is a proponent of the 'war on Christmas' myth so pervasive in right-wing politics, so I assumed this would have something Jesus-y in it. As it stands, there was nary a manger scene!

Jed Henry packs a lot of visuals and story cues into each scene.

The story concerns a young boy, Mike, and his frantic desperation at discovering what treasures lie within his Christmas packages. With the help of his sister, Pat, he concocts just such a scheme. It is also the story of a boy who discovers why it is not a good idea to lie... not because of religious pronouncements, but because one lie begets another lie, begets another lie, until finally he just cannot maintain the ruse any longer, and all must be confessed.

Interestingly, the most amount of wit comes not in the story, but in the Author's Note at the very beginning, in which we learn that the story we are about to hear was a true story. "While I confess to hatching the scheme," he writes, concerning his young self and his sister, "It was her dexterity and surgeon-like precision with tape ad gift wrap that provided the cover."

Mike's scheme is so preposterous, even the cat is nervous!

Later, he writes, "She once put Bctime in my chicken noodle soup (undoubtedly to protect me from disease), but I forgave her for that as well Ultimately, I decided that the best way to get even was to become a public figure so that she would be bombarded with questions as to why she didn't try harder with the potato chips of the Bactine..."

I wish he had kept this tone all the way through, but once the story begins, it turns a bit banal, but serviceable. For example, "Christmas was Mike's favorite season. He loved making his wish list, decorating the tree, and eating as many Christmas cookies as he wanted." Maybe it's the change from first-person to third-person that does him in.

"Beaver, have you been watching CNBC again?"

Regardless, the plan hatched by Mike and his real-life sister was rather clever in its execution, and the lessons learned felt genuine and not forced. Spot on, Huck!

Vote for Huckabee and all your wildest dreams will come true!

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