CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016
Eric James has authored a pair of seasonal “holiday” books to which has been added a Canadian component, albeit Canada-lite. In both, the central character is having some difficulty in coping with the evening’s excitement. In Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada, which utilizes poetry for its text but is told in first person, a young child knows s/he must be in bed and asleep before Santa will arrive with gifts. Though the child falls asleep, s/he suddenly wakes up when s/he realizes:
The sleepy child then goes downstairs to put together a plate of cookies, not realizing that Santa, having seen the child asleep, has already entered the house, and so begins a game of cat and mouse, though the child does not realize s/he is part of it.
Also told via poetry but from a first person perspective, A Halloween Scare in Canada finds a young child who fears Halloween as it’s the night when:
When numerous scary creatures invade the child’s house to hold their Halloween Ball, the child fears the worst: “I’m not very tasty/so don’t eat me please!” James, however, provides a happy ending, one that sees the child looking forward to next year’s Halloween.
Both books are part of a series, and so Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada also has versions set in the cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto as well as the provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia while A Halloween Scare in Canada variants are located in the aforementioned four cities plus Ottawa. The earlier Canada-lite comment refers to the fact that there is very little “true” Canadian content in either book. In terms of illustration, Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada opens with a double-page spread that sees Santa’s sleigh flying over a panorama of buildings, but none other than perhaps what might be Ottawa’s parliament buildings is immediately recognizable. Other than a sign labelled “Stanley Park”, there are no other visuals to identify this book as being set in Canada. Even the “Stanley Park” illustration is not representative of that park as the illustrator has just shown a single leaf-bare deciduous tree. A Halloween Scare in Canada does a little better illustration-wise. It, too, opens with a double-page spread, and this time some of the structures are identifiable, including Winnipeg’s Provencher bridge and the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge. Canadian flags appear in various places as does the word Canada, including the word’s forming part of the names of various businesses.
Canadian place names are just mentioned in the two books’ texts without any further development.
If one ignores the absence of Canadian content in books that highlight the word Canada in their titles, the books are acceptably written and illustrated, with both having attractive endpapers. A positive for the books is that the illustrations of their central characters are rendered such that their gender is ambiguous. Not likely school purchases because of the very child-like portrayal of the central characters, both Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada and A Halloween Scare in Canada might be considered for home purchase.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.