HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Deirdre Kessler. Illustrated by P. John Burden.
Volume 18 Number 2
It is difficult to assign a grade level to this picture-book. The setting and characterization are of Boston and Prince Edward Island in 1886 and an Acadian girl. Where I teach, it is not until grade 7 that students are introduced to the history behind this theme. Ella is an orphan girl - tomboy really, who lives with her mean Aunt Ada who says, "You'll stay here and like it" and "I warned my brother not to marry a Canadian. She was a wild one, too. And she didn't even speak English!" (More than a bit of bias here!).Ella decides to run away. All fall she saves enough pennies to buy "a good hunting knife and some fish-hooks and line." She also gets boys' clothing, a bedroll and pack. She is going to go off to P.E.I. to find her Grandmother Gallant. From here on, the story is rather amazing. This young girl simply walks north, does barn work sometimes to have a place to sleep, gets to Cape Tormentine by December, finds a ship, gets to P.E.I., by this time aware that there are thousands of Mme Gallants, travels "far inland," and is sitting on the roadside in discouragement when along comes her grandmother. So much journeying with so little detail given! This young girl, exact age never given, just walks and rides a ship all that distance! This is material for a novel, not a picture-book. I have a problem with the grandmother so conveniently showing up just at the right moment and the seeming ease with which Ella acquires supplies and money as needed. It could have been that magnificent artwork would have made this story worthwhile, but the black-and-white drawings are often unattractive. The title Home for Christmas narrows the interest in the book itself to the December schedule. We need picture-books celebrating our heritage, but we also need the best for our children. For the reasons stated above, I would not purchase this book for my library.
Fran Newman, Murray Centennial Public School, Trenton, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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