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Dear Santa please come to the 19th floor_

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Author: Yin
Illustrator: Chris Soentpiet

Gr K and up/Ages 5+
32 pages/picture book
10¾" x 11"
ISBN # 978-0-14-241931-1
$7.99 US

$9.50 CAN

Puffin Books imprint of:
Penguin Putnam Books
345 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
(800) 526-0275

Ever since the accident, Carlos just isn't the same. But Christmas is coming, and Carlos' best friend, Willy knows that if there is ever a time to cheer Carlos up, it's now. What better to lift his spirits than a visit from Santa Claus himself!

The trouble is, Santa has never come to a rough neighborhood where the boys live. Even if he did, how would he get up to the nineteenth floor of their building, which has no chimney -no matter how difficult -to bring Carlos his gift, and to make him smile. This is a powerful story of friendship and hope.  The true meaning of christmas.

After having so much fun working together on our first book COOLIES, Yin and I decided to collaborate again. Since I've been working on many historical books, I wanted to illustrate a lighthearted story. When Yin first showed me the manuscript, I thought it really captured the true spirit of Christmas. I was excited to start painting right away! Did you know, I sketched the outdoor and stairway scenes from Yin's childhood apartment building? -Chris Soentpiet

Growing up on the nineteenth floor of an apartment building, I always dreamed of living in a big house with a chimney that Santa Claus could tumble down. The characters were inspired by my friends from my old neighborhood in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Though Santa Claus never visited my apartment, my belief in the spirit of Christmas is very much alive in my heart. Now I live in a big house...with a chimney! -Yin


School Library Journal:
Best friends Willy and Carlos live in a rundown apartment building in a rough urban neighborhood populated by winos as well as hardworking neighbors. Carlos, who has had a spinal-cord injury and is in a wheelchair, is angry and depressed, believing he will never be able to play basketball again, so Willy e-mails Santa with a special request on behalf of his friend. When he looks out his window on Christmas Eve, he sees Santa parallel park his sleigh across the street and rushes down to meet him. They find that the elevator is broken and climb the 19 floors, handing out gifts along the way, including a new basketball for Carlos, when they reach his apartment. This is a powerful, poignant book about dignity and hope in the midst of poverty and despair. Soentpiet's beautiful, realistic watercolor illustrations contrast starkly with the gritty setting, complementing the mood of the text. This is lengthy for a picture book, yet it is a successful combination of fantasy and realism with an important underlying message: the real gift is that of hope.-M.W. copyright October 2002 School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly:
Santa never comes here to this neighborhood," says Willy, a Hispanic boy who lives in a high rise. Nevertheless, Willy secretly e-mails Santa a request to visit his dejected best friend: "My pal Carlos is in a wheelchair now and could use a good surprise." Carlos, meanwhile, lobbies Santa on Willy's behalf. Santa indeed shows up on Christmas Eve bearing gifts-and hope. The urban setting is a welcome addition to the season's lineup. Soentpiet's brings high-wattage lighting and a high-contrast palette to his realistic watercolor scenes.
copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc

Kirkus Reviews:
Yin and Soentpiet collaborate for the second time (Coolies, 2001) with this long first-person story narrated by a Hispanic boy named Willy. His best friend, Carlos, is in a wheelchair and they both live in a New York City high-rise apartment building in a neighborhood that Willy calls "scary and rough." Willy sends Santa an e-mail asking for a gift for Carlos, and Carlos does the same for Willy. On Christmas Eve, Santa arrives in the street outside and, after a long climb up 19 flights of stairs, shedding his garb along the way, gives Carlos a basketball (even though he can't use it in his wheelchair) and Willy a telescope. The basketball and Santa's visit are supposed to give the boys hope, and perhaps they shall, though it's a stretch. Soentpiet's realistic watercolor illustrations give each character an individual personality, and Santa seems quite real, especially when he arrives in the street, as he struggles to make it up the stairs with his pack of heavy gifts, and in the cover illustration as he looks at his computer screen. Though the overall story is a touch sentimental, its realistic urban setting, not seen enough in picture books, will help it find its audience. copyright 2002

Review from
A truly touching story about how Santa climbed up stairs to the nineteenth floor to visit Carlos, a young boy who recently had a bad accident and is now confined to a wheelchair. At the beginning of the story, Carlos questioned why Santa would ever want to visit a boy in a wheelchair. Not only was Carlos sure that Santa would not want to visit him because of his wheelchair, but Carlos was positive that Santa would not want to climb up nineteen stories to his family's apartment. Willie, Carlos' best friend, noticed how upset Carlos had been lately and decided to e-mail Santa and request that he visit Carlos. In the e-mail, Willie walked Santa through the steps on how to get into the apartment without having a key to the lobby, he instructed Santa on what apartment to go to, and where Santa should park his sleigh so that he wouldn't get a ticket. The joy that Carlos experiences when he sees Santa at his door is indescribable. A wonderful Christmas story that shows in pictures and words the hope and magic that Santa Claus brings to the holidays. The illustrations are exquisite. Soentpiet captures human emotion better than any other that I have ever seen. -Jayme Derbyshire


Theme: DEAR SANTA, PLEASE COME TO THE 19TH FLOOR can be used to introduce your students to apartment houses, wheelchairs, Christmas and friendships.

Pre-reading: Show the students the cover and the last page (where the two characters are staring out the window) of the book, read the title, author and illustrators name. Ask them what they think the book will be about.

Reading: As you read and show the illustrations have the students look closely at the drawings. What details can they find in the pictures? Have them look closely at the expressions on the faces for the characters -- how do they change during the story. Ask the students how they think the characters are feeling?

Post-reading: From the ground floor, have the students plan a trip up the stairs. Imagine going 19 flights up. The students can do this in small groups or altogether. How many flights can each students climb before getting real tired. Do you think the 19th floor was too high? If you rewrite the ending, at what floor would their Santa collapse?

Science: On the 10th floor, Willy gives Santa some cookies. Using the food pyramid, what nutritious snack would you carry in your pocket and give to Santa?

Literature: Read another book about Christmas or the handicapped. Read WHEEL WIZARD by
Matt Christopher. Look for other books by Yin and Chris Soentpiet. If you really enjoyed DEAR SANTA, PLEASE COME TO THE 19TH FLOOR write a review and post it on-line at or so others can enjoy your reading experience.

Bulletin Board - Santa Claus carries lots of presents in his "sack". Display one on the bulletin board. If each student was Santa Claus what would they give to their friend? List them.


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