Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review - Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells
by James Pierpont
illustrated by Jade Goegebuer
Date: 2018
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 30
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Take a Ride in a One Horse Open Sleigh

The classic Christmas carol comes to life in this beautifully illustrated edition of Jingle Bells. Originally written in 1857 for the Thanksgiving season, Jingle Bells has become a beloved Christmas song sung by young and old alike. In this edition, delicate watercolor images are paired with the text to bring the delight of the holiday season to young readers.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a completely unnecessary book that combines a dated song with ugly illustrations. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but I thought the pictures were hideous and kind of creepy. When you're dealing with subject matter that's so familiar, the illustrations had better be spectacular... or readers are just going to move on to the next (better) book.

It seems weird to be critiquing a song from 1857, but I think it needs to be pointed out that some of the verses are a bit dated. It's a little bit sexist, and there's one verse that shows appallingly bad behaviour (when the narrator falls on his back in the snow, another man passing by in his sleigh just laughs at him and continues without stopping to help). There's also a verse where the sleigh overturns, and this is shown in the illustrations... but there's no resolution, and we don't know how the couple managed to get their sleigh back on its runners to continue. Young readers are probably going to want to know. I sure did. And, finally, some of the verses make it clear that this is a song directed at heterosexual young men. You're apparently supposed to grab your girls and take them out for a sleigh ride.

I'm afraid I can't find much here to recommend. I'm sure this song has been illustrated before, and I'm fairly certain that any of those other versions would be more aesthetically pleasing than this one. Take one dated song, add some forgettable illustrations, and you get... this.

Thank you to NetGalley and Xist Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1.43 out of 5

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