"And so Santa is...?" a skeptical child says, looking at you quizzically.
How does a parent handle that question?
A new book by Bayfield author Brooke Smith, Brinley Discovers Santa, can help parents handle that delicate subject.
"I wanted to put a positive spin on the entire thing," said Smith, who also is director of library services at Pine River Public Library. "My book turns the character of Santa Claus into the spirit of giving."
Released this week, the book tells the story of a girl who is told there is no such thing as Santa, and how her mother teaches her that Santa can live in our everday acts of kindness.
"It's about giving to the community, and not just at Christmastime," Smith said. Even simple acts, such as donating old coats to a shelter or an extra can of food to a food bank, can help those in need, she said.
She hopes the book "allows the whole family to really look outside themselves to contribute to the community."
Smith recommends that parents read the book first and decide if their children are ready for the message. Her 10-year-old son understood when she read him a draft of the book.
"The eight-year-old - it totally went over his head!" she said.
Although she thinks it's appropriate for any time of year, she hopes Brinley Discovers Santa can join the list of books parents read with their children every Christmas.
Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, and at Mill Street Drug in Bayfield.
The book is illustrated by Robbie Myers. The two attended high school together in Hawaii and recently reconnected online, and Smith asked her old classmate if she would be able to illustrate the book in 30 days to meet her publishing deadline.
They finished the work at 10 p.m. the day it was due and shipped it that evening.
Smith encourages all fledgling authors to publish a book.
"I think one is inside all of us," she said.