"Santa Bruce"

Cranky Bruce the bear is back in “Santa Bruce,” a picture book Scrooge would relish. All things Christmas have bear wishing he could sleep through the holiday as he’s done in the past, so goes Ryan T. Higgins' newest “Mother Bruce” book.

Bruce’s jovial family, three mice and a gaggle of geese, speak in comical word bubbles as they trim the tree, ready the wreath and prepare a punch bowl of eggnog. But Bruce won’t stop grousing, his mood worsening as he gets tangled in lights, doing his best to dampen everyone’s Christmas spirit.

Being cold isn’t to Bruce’s liking either and he dresses in long, red underwear and a stocking cap to brave the elements. As he’s shoveling snow a raccoon mistakes him for Santa and word spreads, a horde of woodland creatures swarming into his house to lap-sit telling Bruce what’s on their Christmas list.

The case of mistaken identity ends up with Bruce taking to a sleigh, in a hilarious series of events that will have children happily turning the pages. Books for kids should entertain adult readers too—“Santa Bruce” satisfies with a droll, but loveable protagonist and lively, tis-the-season illustrations. Ages 4-7.