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Swede, George.

Illustrated by Allan and Deborah Drew-Brook-Cormack, Toronto, Three Trees Press, c1986, unpaged, paper, ISBN 0-88823-121-0 (cloth) $12.95, 0-88823-123-7 (paper) $5.95.CIP

Grades 2-4
Reviewed by Margaret Montgomery

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

A grade 2 teacher, to whom I showed this book, enthusiastically endorsed it, saying that it presents another side of the Christmas story, that it includes reality, decision making, positive values, and it has a happy ending. This short illustrated story tells of Dudley seeing a boy stealing from one of his classmates. Dudley dreams of being a hero and recovering the stolen goods. In fact, he does manage to right the wrong, but he does not feel heroic. The thief is a member of a poor, single-parent family and was stealing to provide a nice Christmas for his sister and for his mother. Dudley proves himself to be equal to that challenge too: he and his father play Santa Claus to the poor family.

This book would certainly provide a teacher or parent with the opening for a good discussion on the true meaning of Christmas. It is an unusual story for the season, not the usual gift-grab theme. This lesson is not hammered home, it is simply implicit in the story.

The various people who reviewed the book all commented, however, that they did not like the illustrations, that they are bland and unappealing. There is no excitement or humour in the narrative; rather, it is a vehicle for the messages of kindness, generosity, and forgiveness. The children depicted in the illustrations and in the story are about ten years old. This story would be best used at the grade 2 and up level.

Margaret Montgomery, West Vernon E.S., Vernon, B.C.
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