Children of all ages sat quietly in a room of as Patricia Cardello read her book, "The Magical Tale of Santa Dust," to them.
Following along in their own copies of the book, the children excitedly pointed out bits of the colorful illustration throughout the story. Whether they found the tiny elf or spotted Santa through the window, they were happy to participate.
After the reading, Cardello offered to sign the book for her young fans, who quickly gathered around her table.
The book tells the tale of two children, an unnamed boy and girl, who are saddened by the fact that Santa can never find their house on Christmas. One year, on Christmas Eve, they find a little red pouch with a glass ornament that sparkles with elf magic. When the ornament breaks, the children lose hope that they would be able to help Santa find their home and go sleep, knowing there will be no presents in the morning. But the magical dust that sprinkles from the broken ornament does the exact opposite, and the children awake to one present for everyone in the family, including a bone for their beloved dog Jack.
Cardello was inspired to write the story after starting her own family tradition of Santa dust. Cardello lives in an apartment in Manhattan, and when her children were young she would joke with them that Santa would not be able to find their apartment in such a big city and remind them that it's not possible for Santa to make it to every home in the entire world.
"I would say, 'Gosh let's just make something to let him know we're here.' It was really a game with my kids," Cardello said.
They began making a concoction of glitter and gold stars, and every Christmas Eve they would walk around their neighborhood sprinkling the glittery mix, which her children called Santa Dust, in order to guide Santa to their door.
The walks on Christmas Eve quickly became a tradition for Cardello and her children, and soon other children in the neighborhood were joining in to make sure that Santa would be able to find their home too.
"This little pouch," Cardello said, holding up the red velvet pouch of Santa Dust that comes with the book, "is magic in a child's eyes. It makes them believe."
One year, during the walk, another mother in the neighborhood suggested Cardello market her Santa Dust. And that's where her journey as an author began.
She walked in Macy's in New York one day with a prototype of her Santa Dust.
"I walked into their toy department and asked to speak with their buyer. I had no idea what I was doing or what a buyer really did," Cardello said. But the buyer was interested, and Macy's sold the magical Santa Dust as part of their Believe campaign in 2008. Her Santa Dust was nominated as one of the 2008 Best New Products of the Year and received the 2009 Seal of Excellence Award.
The book that now accompanies the Santa Dust is Cardello's first, and she said she is working toward making it an animated feature film.
And as if to prove to children the strength of Santa Dust, Old Saint Nick arrived about an hour after the reading and book signing to take photos, hand out presents and remind the ecstatic children to behave and do well in school.
Copies of "The Magical Tale of Santa Dust" are available at the Hobby Shop. The book comes with a pouch of Santa Dust.