Ian, CEO, North Pole, by Eric Dana Hansen is a thoroughly charming and surprisingly educational read.
I snapped up the opportunity to read this book, expecting a seasonal-feel good, something that I hoped I could recommend to parents as a good, holiday themed family-reading or independent-reading title, or maybe even something to encourage reluctant readers who are getting excited about the Christmas season. And, to be honest, I also hoped that the author wouldn’t take the topic over the top. I know many families who choose not to include the tradition of Santa in their holiday observances. Although Santa has played a sporadic part in our holiday celebrations over the years, we do not embrace the massive emphasis on accumulation of material goods. We feel this neither reflects the spirit of the season, nor, frankly, is healthy for anyone involved.
Anyway. I was really, really hoping this book wouldn’t serve to reinforce this unfortunate development in modern Christmas observances.
And, I am very happy to tell you that Ian, CEO, North Pole does a great job telling a pretty fun tale, keeping eyes on what’s important, not just at Christmas, but year round, throughout our entire lives.
Ian, you see, is an elf. An elf with a great heart and excellent work ethic, but he keeps having trouble finding the right job. Either he is too easily distracted (in this reader’s opinion, because the job is not challenging enough), or he does his job too well or too fast, creating stress for his co-workers. Eventually, Ian finds his way ƒstickyto a Culture Studies Support group. It turns out, Santa needs a lot of assistance with all the research that needs to be done. Ian takes to this like a duck to water, and before he realizes it, is being fast-tracked into management.
As an adult, this book was so much fun to read. Ian’s delight in studying various Christmas traditions around the world is contagious, and leads to a great deal of cultural information before he even enters his class/support group. Ian also begins to understand that a large part of Santa’s need for assistance is due to the more recent transitory nature of our world cultures – that is, people move now, far more often than they did even a century ago, and they move farther. So, a child may be born in the United States, but travel with her family to visit her grandparents in Europe to celebrate Christmas. The notes that elves make regarding whether that child expects Santa or Père Noël, and whether she’ll be home or 5000 miles away, and whether she expects to find her gifts on Christmas Eve for Christmas Day (or even January 6)… that’s a lot of information that has to be managed!
In addition to learning so much about cultures, readers learn about what management is. I loved the first meeting where Ian is approached about the idea, and it is explained to him that being in management means working his hardest to support others in working together and doing the best job they can. Ian has a curious mind, and the extra, self-directed research and learning that used to get him in hot water on occasion becomes his greatest asset. His learning leads to considering new ideas and recent technology, and while he recognizes that Santa likes to do things “the old fashioned way,” that it’s always good to have a back-up plan… And, eventually, Ian’s back-up plan saves the day!
Although a chapter book, Ian, CEO, North Pole is not a long read, and it feels even shorter because, well, it’s just fun to read. Sure, Ian likes to learn and work hard, but he and his elf friends also know when taking a break and spending the day snowboarding is a good idea, and when they just need to push through to make it to Christmas Eve, focusing on the work of heart and hands. Ian even becomes special friends with an elf named Elise – who enjoy each others company (when they aren’t so busy working and learning) and who cooperate together to help Santa pull of yet another successful Christmas Eve.
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All opinions expressed here are mine alone.