Known primarily as a comic strip writer and illustrator, Berkeley Breathed is also a children's book author and illustrator. My favorite book is Red Ranger Came Calling, A Guaranteed True Christmas Story which is dedicated to his father.
The author explains in the foreword why he wrote the book and you immediately get a taste for his wonderful, offbeat sense of humor and love of life.
"It is with a bicycle that this story begins and ends- a story that my father, the former Red Ranger of Mars, told us on the Christmas Eves of my own childhood."
The story is told from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy before Christmas during the Depression of 1939, a boy who doesn't believe in Santa Claus, but meets a reclusive old man who is rumored to be the real deal.
The illustrations are so detailed and imaginative, with colors that seem to burst off the pages. Yet, it is the highly wacky simple story line that is what I find both fascinating and somewhat of a eulogy.
"Fifty years later, if you ask if I'm making this all up, I'll say this: The word of the Red Ranger of Mars should be all you need. And if you ask if I believe in Santa Claus, I'll say this: Mind your own business."
I picked up this book for my husband, who was born in 1939 and has always believed in Santa Claus.
Little, Brown and Company
New York, New York