________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 19 . . . . January 23, 2015


The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever.

Budge Wilson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1984/2013.
100 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-2825-4.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

**** /4


Mrs. MacDermid came running. “Lorinda!” She spoke softly, breathlessly, but with unmistakable panic in her voice. Reaching out, she snatched the vase away. “There!” she sighed. “It’s safe. Now please, dear. Don’t pick things up!”

“You don’t need to be so worried, Mrs. MacDermid,” snapped Lorinda, “because I’m going to buy it. For my mother. For Christmas.”

All the irritation faded out of Mrs. MacDermid’s eyes. “Oh, Lorinda,” she sighed, for a different reason this time. “Do you know what it costs? I’m so sorry. Why don’t you buy her a nice apron?”

“Because she’s got lots of aprons, and anyway, aprons are work things. I want to get her a present that’s just a happy thing. Like the vase. Besides, I’ve got five dollars all saved up from my paper route, and I want to buy her that”.


This story by Budge Wilson was originally published in 1984 and republished in 2013. The book would be enjoyed by readers today. Lorinda, who is 10, and her younger brother decide to buy an expensive vase for their mother for Christmas. Their father is ill, and so the family struggles to make ends meet. Their money-making ideas are not successful until one idea, which didn’t seem like it would be worthwhile, took off, and they easily reached their goal.

     The story continues with everything going wrong from Lorinda’s misplacing the money, the neighbour boy, Reginald Corkum, buying the vase to annoy Lorinda, a second vase ordered and then their mother wondering why anyone would buy such an ugly vase. Lorinda thinks about what to do and comes up with an excellent idea that meets with everyone’s approval.

     The author uses characterization very well. The characters are appropriate to children in the intended audience. Conflict is shown in how the characters relate to one another from a younger sibling who may tell their mother the secret to Reginald Corkum who is always causing problems for Lorinda. Part of the struggle comes because Lorinda has refused to invite Reginald to her birthday party. Lorinda learns that sometimes she needs to make the first move to ease the tension even though she feels she is in the right.

     The language is very descriptive. The passage on page 71, where Lorinda is on her way to purchase the vase, uses parallel structure very well. “She felt like a fairy princess . . . She felt like a millionaire . . . She felt like a mountain climber. . ” Readers at this age level could identify with Lorinda and her feelings of extreme gratitude.

     The 100 pages are divided into 12 chapters with titles that relate to the plot. This book would appeal to a variety of readers, including readers of human interest and realistic fiction. The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever would be an excellent class novel for individual reading or as a read-aloud choice particularly for the younger ages in the intended audience. It would be an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Deborah Mervold is an educator from Shellbrook, SK, now doing faculty training and program development at Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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