Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

The Night Before a Canadian Christmas, by Troy Townsin, 28 pages.

Mom and Dad, dressed in their housecoats, are watching a hockey game on CBC Television and the children, wearing long johns, are snug in their beds.

It isn’t just any quiet winter evening in Canada, however …

“Twas the night before Christmas and all around the house, not a creature was stirring, except for a moose … When the lights had been hung in the front yard with care, no one had expected a moose to pass there!”

The hapless moose becomes tangled in the strings of lights and manages to entangle the skidoo as well. After a minute, it flees the scene, taking both the skidoo and the lights with it.

Mom and Dad soon have a bigger surprise, however, for a large sled pulled by eight flying beavers and driven by an old gentleman in a red tuque hurtles from the sky, faster than an oncoming CPR train. It’s Santa, of course, who has dramatically updated his wardrobe to a Don Cherry-like outfit - which has even the beavers hiding their eyes!  

Avoiding the chimney (it’s cold, so a fire has been lit in the fireplace), he enters from the back door, accepts a warm “double-double” instead of a glass of milk, and sets to work filling Christmas stockings.

In no time at all, his eyes twinkling, Santa is finished and steps back out into the chilly night. He discovers that his beavers, led by the “Eager Beaver” duo, Trudeau and Gretzky, are having a snowball fight.

There’s no time to waste though, so the beavers quickly leave the snowballs, take their places at the front of the sled and fly off through the Northern Lights.
Just before Santa disappears from view, he shouts out, “MERRY CHRISTMAS CANADA, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT – EH!!”
This engaging picture book was written by Troy Townsin and illustrated by Jennifer Harrington, the team which also created Canadian Jingle Bells, in which Santa travels across Canada to deliver gifts to each province and territory on Christmas Eve.       

** Recommended for ages 3 to 8 years.

Finding Christmas, by Robert Munsch, 32 pages.
Whether her Christmas gifts were hidden in the basement, the bathroom or the garage, Julie was always able to find them before December 25 … until this year.
She had looked everywhere without success.  Had Mom and Dad had forgotten to buy presents this year?
On Christmas Eve, she decided to try one last time.
There were no Christmas gifts in the basement, bathroom, garage, or in her parents’ bedroom, but when her best friend suggested that the gifts could be inside the large box sitting atop the decorative Santa sleigh on the roof, Julie climbed up to investigate.
Sure enough, there were the presents, packed away in the bottom of the box!
Julie was elated - until she discovered that she couldn’t climb back out of the huge box.  She was trapped.
After a few hours, Mom and Dad eventually found their daughter, and they decided to wrap her up as THEIR special present.
When her siblings found Julie under the Christmas tree, they gift-wrapped themselves and sat under the tree too.  
And on Christmas morning, the family agreed that with such special and unique gifts, it really was their “best Christmas ever”!
Robert Munsch’s fun, silly story, enhanced by Michael Marchenko’s wacky illustrations, was inspired by his daughter Julie, who was always able to find her presents before Christmas. 

** Recommended for ages 3 to 7 years.

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on December 20, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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