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The Great Santa Stakeout

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  448 ratings  ·  81 reviews
A delightfully devious Christmas story from beloved librarian Betsy Bird and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat.
Freddy Melcher is Santa's #1 Fan. He has Santa posters, Santa action figures, and even Santa underwear. But there is one prize Freddy desperately wants: A photograph taken with Santa, fresh out of the chimney.

Oh, is it risky! It's awfully hard to sneak anything by so
Hardcover, 34 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  448 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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I got this late from the library and put this up as my last review of the year for picture books.

I am a fan of Dan Santat, so it was a treat to see he did the artwork here. It’s interesting that this is coming out the same day as my review of How to Catch an Elf because they sort of have the same premises - to catch Santa claus. The boy in this book, Freddy loves Santa and he dresses up as Santa every holiday of the year and people think he’s a little peculiar. He thinks he will be able to outw
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Santa Lovers Who Dream of Meeting the Great Gift-Giver Themselves
One of Santa's biggest fans, young Freddy Melcher had everything Santa-themed that one could imagine, from toys to room decorations, and he dressed up as Santa at every holiday, regardless of the season. The one thing he didn't have however, was a photograph of the real Santa. So began a carefully orchestrated plan to get that elusive collectible. Would Freddy triumph? Or would Santa outwit him...?

An entertaining new Christmas picture-book, The Great Santa Stakeout pairs an amusing story from au
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Operation capture Santa is underway with little Freedy. I must say me and Freedy are huge fans of Santa. He dresses like Santa for every holiday and birthday, which might be a little out of hand. But he owns everything Santa related from posters, paintings, figurines, etc., but he doesn't have a picture with Santa after arriving in his home through the chimney. Will Freedy outwit his favorite idol or will Santa be prepared to out win Freddy? You will need to read to find out. The story has a gre ...more
Robyn Schultz (ladyrobyns)
Freddy Melcher is Santa's biggest fan. The one thing that Freddy wants more than anything is a picture of himself with Santa. Operation Santa-selfie is a go for this Christmas. ...more
Another winner from Betsy Bird. Everything by her that I've read by her has a delightfully amusing twist to it and this book is no different. The idea of Santa having a super fan is one I'm surprised I haven't run into before. The addition of the boy desperately wanting a selfie is so deliciously modern. While that might date the book eventually, right now it works really well. Freddy's efforts to 'trap' Santa into getting his picture taken are amusing. After all, it's quite risky trying to trap ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can never go wrong with the amazing Dan Santat illustrations.
Freddy Melcher just adores Santa, and considers himself the Jolly Old Elf's number one fan. Not only does he dress up as Santa for every holiday, not just Christmas, but he as all sorts of Santa-related paraphernalia. Because he covets a photograph of his idol, he decides to set a trap and capture him for a moment in time. But even though Freddy has been practicing staying awake as long as possible, he falls asleep and misses his chance. Awakened by he clang of cans on the roof, Freddy dashes ou ...more
Ms Threlkeld
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Freddy Melcher is Santa’s #1 fan. He dresses like jolly old Saint Nick for holidays other than Christmas; he gives out tree-shaped Valentine’s; and his entire room is decked out in Santa paraphernalia. The only thing Freddy doesn’t have is a photo of himself with Mr. Claus the moment the man pops forth from the chimney. Luckily, Freddy has a fool-proof plan to get such a photograph. Kids and adults will giggle with glee as Freddy sets his plan in motion and then delight in the outcome. Santat’s ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
As a school librarian, I am a fan of both creators of this book, but the illustrations felt a bit too scary for a holiday book. Especially the spread where the main character is in bed with Mom and Dad (ghostly silhouettes) behind him, and later when he jumps out of bed, the exaggerated perspective is scary. Returning to library after one read.
Alice Ball
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
You can't outwit the man in red! ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This looks like an excellent picture book for kids who are at least old enough to read along with the text. I'm not sure that the humor will work as well for the youngest kids, though, which is why I only gave it four stars. With Dan Santat's name on it as illustrator, it could tempt parents of kids who are simply too young for the story.
That said, the boy in this story is going to grow up to be a mad scientist, a world-threatening villain, or Wile E. Coyote. I'm not really sure which, because h
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, winter
We don’t really do Santa in my family, but my four year old is obsessed with him nonetheless. Of all the (many, many) Santa books we read this year, this is by far his favorite. We both have it nearly memorized by now. I like that it’s cute, clever, and BRIEF. My only wish is that with all the various Santa knick knacks in the book, we could have had at least one Black Santa depiction. Nope, white Santas all the way down. Still, if I had to choose a Santa book to read dozens of times, it would t ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Great Santa Stakeout by Betsy Bird, illustrated by Dan Santat. PICTURE BOOK. Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), SEPTEMBER 2019. $18. 9781338169980



Freddy loves everything Santa – his Valentine’s are even Santa themed. He has big plans to get his long-sought selfie with Santa this year. He’s pretty confident that all of his plans are fool-proof.

Hooray! What a great first Christmas book of the year! I am looking forward to sharing thi
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbmr-reviewed
Freddy Melcher loves Santa. He dresses up as Santa for parties, even when they are pirate parties. His room is decorated with Santa decorations. In fact, he has a collection of practically any Santa-related thing he can find. He just needs one thing to finish that collection: a selfie of him and the Big Man. No one’s ever caught Santa before, but if anyone can do it, Freddy can. So, Freddy comes with a foolproof four-step plan to catch Jolly Old St. Nick. Once it’s set up, all he has to do is st ...more
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cute! Perseverance just might pay off! (STEM, without pushing it down their throats!)
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Parents, caregivers and educators have sure knowledge of the passion and persistence children employ when they are in pursuit of a plan. Once they get an idea in their minds, it usually takes an epic force to impede any progress. Their desire for success is so strong, that if at first they don't succeed, they will most definitely try again.

Defeat is not an option. Brainstorming a new scheme to obtain a desired goal is the only course of action. The Great Santa Stakeout (Arthur A. Levine Books, a
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great story...what fun!
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, here's the thing. Typically you have to commit to either the "Santa is real" or Santa isn't real" side when you write about Santa unless you want to be so vague about it that Santa can't be a genuine actor in the script. I was super impressed with Betsy's ability to create a scenario that makes you think she's going to pick a side, that she HAS to pick a side, and then manage to wiggle her way out of it like water off an orange hairpiece. It takes a lot to impress me in the picture book worl ...more
Nov 21, 2019 added it
A favorite librarian has written a book about Freddie Melcher and his love for Santa (his number one fan)and what he does to get ready for his idol to come. Yes, he sets a trap but does it work or go wrong in the end. Fun read with children around Christmas and see if they can come up with a better plan.
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Freddy is Santa’s biggest fan and he wants to get a picture with Santa just as he comes out of the chimney on Christmas Eve. But it won’t be easy ... he has to hide his plans for Operation Santa Selfie because Santa is always watching, right? With 4 simple steps, Freddy is ready for his plan to succeed. But Santa is no amateur. Does Freddy have what it takes?

Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic story of Santa' #1 fan, Freddy. Find out what happens as he schemes to get a selfie with Santa on Christmas Eve. This one will make the kids laugh out loud, although it might be a bit much for preschoolers to grasp. ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture, christmas, stem
Freddy is Santa's biggest fan. He always dresses up like the big guy. The one thing he wants most of all - a selfie with Santa as soon as he comes down the chimney. Freddy sets up an elaborate plan to trap santa at the exact moment, but he fails, although Santa does leave Freddy a note. Until next time Santa! It would be fun to let Kids draw and describe their foolproof Santa catcher ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love it! Not even Santa's #1 Fan can outwit the big guy on Christmas Eve, but Freddy's attempt is well-planned and funny. Kids will love this short little story that moves along briskly, and the idea leads right into a lesson (or rainy day activity) for kids to design their own way to capture a Santa Selfie.....can't wait to see what they come up with! ...more
Abby Johnson
Young Santa-fanatics are sure to appreciate this cute, humorous story about a boy determined to get a selfie with Santa. This would make a fun readaloud (at Christmas time or any time of year) to pair with a challenge to kids to brainstorm their own plan to snatch a selfie with Santa.
Like this in the vein of After the Fall, but not sure it will be as much fun as a read aloud, but that remains to be seen. Will hopefully read it aloud for the holiday season and may be able to write more.
Miss Ryoko
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I will read any picture book Dan Santat illustrates. Sometimes I get lucky and the story is good too, sometimes I don't. This happens to be one of those times I got lucky and the story is just as great as Dan's fabulous illustrations. Super cute book! ...more
Engel Dreizehn
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just in time to plan your own Santa stake out several weeks early! I did the creative planning involved with the boy's blueprints + inventions plus the illustrations really bring to life the eye popping energy. ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Absolutely wonderful. Easy to read, appropriate illustrations for the age group, easy to understand, and just enough mischief to make the story funny but not over the top. A great addition to the children's Christmas book selections available. ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Santa's biggest fan tries to get the one thing he wants most for Christmas: a photo with the big man himself. He comes up with Home-Alone-esque schemes to get things off on the right foot, but of course the best laid plans... ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Freddy is Santa's #1 fan. He desperately wants a photo with him right after he comes down the chimney. He sets up an elaborate scheme to get his picture but accidentally falls asleep. Santa outwits him but he already has plans for next year.
Readers will enjoy the humor and clever illustrations.
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Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, undisputed center of the universe, Betsy Bird (nee Elizabeth Ramsey) grew up and promptly left Michigan the moment her legs could propel her southward. She didn't get far. Obtaining a B.A. at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana (home of recorded jazz and don't let anyone tell you otherwise) she set her sights on Portland, Oregon. When that didn't pan out it was Minnea ...more

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