In hard times even Santa feels the pinch. That’s the message of “Santa and the Recession,” a timely new book for children written and illustrated in Ireland (where the recession is biting harder than most places).

As portrayed by the authors Eithne Diamond and John Gallagher, the recession is an ugly big blue monster that eats houses, piggy banks and children’s toys, frightening away Santa’s elves and threatening to ruin Christmas for millions of kids the world over.

“In the middle of the room sat a strange-looking monster,” reads the book. “It had blue fur, big teeth and sharp claws. Worse still, it was busy eating the children’s toys! “Oh no! It’s a recession!” screamed Santa and he called his elves to chase it away.”

What, this pointedly satirical little book asks, will all the boys and girls do on Christmas Day when there’s nothing under the tree to play with? It’s a question many anxious moms and dads are secretly asking themselves this month.

When mortgages rise and there’s too many bills to pay this year your little bundle of joy might not be in line for that amazing new computer game. For many children, this will come as quite a shock. How do you explain to this generation of have-it-all kids who are daily bombarded with adverts for Wii that this it might be We’ll See instead?

Halloween wasn’t even over this year before the commercials for Christmas toy adverts come on television. They’re played so often already that your kids have them by heart. Buy this toy right now or you might explode and for sure you’ll be the only loser on the block without one (battery’s sold separately).

Faced with the prospect of a very bleak Christmas, brave Santa fights back, taking to his sleigh pulled by 12 reindeer to meet with the world leaders and business people who can put things right and save the day. First Santa visits President Obama, and then he visits Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, and finally he fly’s all the way to China to visit Premier Wen Jiabao.

But it turns out that each man has big troubles of his own to contend with, so it takes all of Santa’s considerable skill to tackle the big blue monster that is stalking the earth and running all the fun. Don’t take a bet against St. Nicholas, the book reminds us, because soon enough he’s tackled the big blue beast and won the day. He even wins help in the end from President Obama, O’Leary and Wen.

“Santa and the Recession” comes complete with a very happy ending and can be ordered at