Monday, 5 November 2018

THE SANTA TRAP • New UK Print-On-Demand Paperback

I'm delighted to announce that Poly Bernatene and I have just published a new UK print-on-demand edition of our "darkly funny" Christmas picture book The Santa Trap.

When children ask which of my own books is my favourite, this is the book I pick. It tells the story of Bradley Bartleby, an obscenely rich, villainous child who sets out to trap Santa Claus so that he can steal all of Santa's presents. One of the reasons I'm particularly fond of the book is that it's slightly autobiographical; as a child, I used to build Santa traps. However, unlike Bradley, I didn't want to capture Santa and steal his presents – I just wanted to get a glimpse of him. So the traps I built were designed to wake me up the moment Santa set foot in my room.

After several years of creating increasingly complex traps, I came up with the tripwire system shown in the diagram below. I strung four thin nylon tripwires around my bedroom and tied the ends to four large beads resting on one end of a Lego see-saw. The opposite end of the see-saw was wired up to a battery-powered alarm. If a tripwire moved, the bead it was tied to would be pulled off the see-saw, causing the opposite end to drop and close the circuit on the ear-piercing alarm. In addition to real tripwires, I strung a similar number of decoy tripwires around the room. It was impossible to tell the real tripwires and the decoys apart – so they both had to be avoided. I tested the trap myself and — even with the light on – I was unable to cross the room without setting off the alarm. The whole system took me so long to build and test that I didn't get into bed until almost midnight, by which time my bedroom looked like an enormous web, crisscrossed with gossamer threads, with me lying spider-like at the far end.

This diagram, from one of my school sessions, shows the final trap I built in my attempts to trap Santa. 

The strict code of secrecy surrounding Santa prevents me from telling what happened that night*, but I can tell you that it was the last Santa trap I ever built.

Another reason I'm particularly fond of the book is Poly's wonderful illustrations. Although it didn't take long to find a publisher, it took three years to find a suitable illustrator. A couple of illustrators agreed to do it but then changed their minds. Eventually, editor Emily Ford found Poly and asked him to do a sample. He turned out to be a perfect fit and well worth the wait. Poly and I have since done another three books together.

One of my favourite spreads from the book.

Bradley's darkly comical antics were a hit with readers and reviewers alike and in 2015 the story was adapted into a stage musical by Robin Belfield and Simon Slater.

Toby Vaughan (left) as beastly Bradley with Elouise Secker and Ben Tolley as his parents in Belfield Slater's 2015 stage production.

Although technically in print, the original UK paperback has not always been available in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so Poly and I have published the new print-on-demand edition to ensure its availability this year.

Another spread from the new edition.

Here's a trailer I put together for the new edition:

The book has proved popular in schools and Herts For Learning have produced a set of lesson plans, based on the book which you can download using the link below.

You can also download some activity sheets for the book by clicking on the images below.

The book is also available in a US Hardback edition from Peachtree Publishers. You can order the new UK print-on-demand edition and the US edition using the buttons below.

Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US

* Which is a shame because it was extremely funny.