What began as one Davidsonville parent posing as her daughter’s fictional pen pal Santa Claus has turned into a children’s book, now available online and in local bookstores across the country.
It’s all started when Davidsonville mom Melissa Stanton’s 6-year-old daughter Ava wrote a thank you note to Santa Claus after Christmas in hopes of getting a response.
“She was very upset that she wasn’t getting mail, and I told her if you want letters you have to send letters,” Stanton said.
After sending the letter, Ava fully expected a response. Because she did not want Ava to feel disappointed, Stanton penned Santa’s response a few days later.
That initial exchange began a somewhat regular correspondence between Ava and Santa Claus and spawned Stanton’s idea for the book, My Pen Pal, Santa. The book is formatted as a read-to-me picture book and features a letter exchange between Ava and Santa. Ava writes regularly to Santa, asking him questions about the North Pole, sharing news of her lost teeth and complaining about her sometimes mean older brother. Santa always responds by answering her questions, offering words of encouragement and reassuring her that she will not be getting coal in her stocking, no matter how much her brother teases.
Stanton was shopping around a different children’s book at the time she came up with this idea. The first book was never sold, but Random House Children’s Books picked up My Pen Pal, Santa four years ago.
“What’s really nice about this one is, it’s not a true story obviously but it’s based on a true story and they let me keep the main character named Ava which is my daughters name,” Stanton said.
Ava’s twin sister Corinne and younger brother Jack also make appearances in the book.
The publishing date was delayed several times, but the book has finally been printed, distributed and made available for sale.
Closer to the holidays, Stanton plans to do a reading at Edgewater Books, where her book will be on sale locally.My Pen Pal, Santa is Stanton’s second book. She also penned a survival guide for stay at home moms in 2009 called The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-Tested Strategies for Staying Smart, Sane, and Connected When You're Raising Kids at Home.