________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016


Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada. (A Christmas Adventure).

Eric James. Illustrated by Robert Dunn & Katerine Kirkland.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.99.
ISBN 978-1-4926-4321-0.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


A Halloween Scare in Canada.

Eric James. Illustrated by Marina Le Ray and Others.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $13.99
ISBN 978-1-4926-0573-7.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4



Excited young children
with heads full of wishes
Leave large Christmas cookies
and carrots on dishes.
They scurry upstairs
for they’ve heard
it is said
That Santa comes
once you’re asleep in your bed! (From
Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada.)

The werewolves
howled loudly.
The moon shine so bright.
I stayed in my bedroom
the curtains shut tight.

My hear started pounding,
my knees felt so weak,
But being a brave kid,
I just had to peek. (From
A Halloween Scare in Canada.)


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:    

You’re sure you forgot to leave Santa a treat.
Will Santa leave presents for someone so rude?!
You must go downstairs
and make sure he has food!

     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:

The big, strong, and hairy, and terribly scary.
All gathered together
for one spooky night,
To seek out the living
and give them a fright.

     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.

The yawns in Toronto grow stronger and stronger.
The children of Brandon can’t stay up much longer.
From Springfield to Sydney and Montreal too,
They’re soon sleeping soundly, All children but you! (From
Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to Canada)


The creepies were crawly, the crazies were crazed,
The Calgary zombies had eyes that were glazed,
The Montreal ogres were ugly as sin,
With big bulging noses and warts on their chin. (From
A Halloween Scare in Canada.)

     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.

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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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