Welcome back to Paperback Throwback, where I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking. Check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in-between—you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
This week’s throwback helps find the Christmas spirit.
Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones are experts in fantastical beings. After all, their characters have been in print, investigating quirky adults who may or may not have mythical identities, for nearly thirty years. With over fifty books in the original The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series plus several spin-offs and special editions, the students of Bailey Elementary have looked into everyone from vampires to Bigfoot to Cupid—yes, even holiday-related characters aren’t immune to their probing.
And that’s the case with the third book in the original series. After one too many extreme messes, Mr. Dobson, the school custodian, quits, leaving the Bailey Elementary students to do their own cleaning. However, when a Mr. Jolly is hired to fill the position, the usual clique of Howard, Liza, Melody, and Eddie can’t help but think he’s a little … off. Physically, he matches the description of that one famous jolly old elf, but then there’s also the fact that he keeps the school’s thermostat set to freezing, he always keeps a list in his little red notebook, and his helper calls him ‘S.C.’ … but surely Santa Claus doesn’t mop floors, right?
These kids just can’t seem to let the adults have any peace, but that’s what’s so endearing about them. Mr. Jolly serves as the perfect foil in this adventure, expertly tackling a series of pranks set off by Eddie. His actions here seem a little more mean-spirited than usual, but Dadey and Jones use this to their advantage, ultimately offering up some justification while tying everything up into a celebration of Christmas spirit. The ending is a little less ambiguous than others in the series—it’s downright magical.
Title: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors
Series: The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids #3
Authors: Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Illustrator: John Steven Gurney
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 1991
Classification: Chapter Book, Fantasy