CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 15. . . .December 16, 2017
Deck the Halls is the third in a series of clever and uniquely Canadian picture books based on well known songs of the season written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann. As in their first collaboration, A Porcupine in a Pear Tree, the award winning duo's take on the original is zany and unapologetically Canadian. Once again, our favourite intrepid Porcupine is cast in a central role, around whom the frantic action, parade of characters and barely controlled chaos takes place.
The many youngsters and their elders who have been lucky enough to become familiar with the first two of Becker and Zimmermann's hilarious takes on holiday songs, the second being Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells, will be delighted with this latest contribution by the gifted author/illustrator duo. Once again Zimmermann's lively watercolours and sense of humour have combined with Becker's perky and infectious rhymes to produce a book that begs for re-visiting. There are new jokes and silly situations waiting to be discovered by keenly observant small listeners (are there any who are not?) with every reading.
In Deck the Halls, the reader is beguiled by busy beavers (what on earth are they building?), skating loons, caribou in hoodies (watch the way Zimmermann handles this), racoons chasing, huskies racing, otters carolling (a cappela, no less!), a polar bear napping, a moose choir singing and eventually the sasquatch bringing his muddling ways into this wildly diverse gathering of True North characters. Then, just when it appears that the whole cast is assembled, what should appear but a family of puffins (who appear to have been missed out in the text). No matter, they seem to be doing an important job. It looks as if they are stringing lights on a rather unusual building project. Young listeners will enjoy the "surprise" ending even if they have predicted it!
The author has added a simple notational score for the traditional Christmas carol which some will find helpful; however, since Becker's verses fit very comfortably into the tune of “Deck the Halls” and since the fa la la's are very easy to expand or contract, no reader should worry about giving Deck the Halls a musical rendition.
This latest Canadian style adaptation of traditional Christmas time songs by the remarkable team of Becker and Zimmermann is an important addition to the elementary school's library's holiday collection. Since it is sure to be a winner with the four to seven-year old bunch, it would be worthwhile for relatives and friends of said bunch to make sure Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol makes it onto their gift list this season.
Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, 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.