Monday, December 17, 2018

Review - Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells
by Kathleen N. Daly
illustrated by J. P. Miller
Date: 1964
Publisher: Golden Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 24
Format: e-book
Source: library

Back in print—a classic Little Golden Book about jingly jangly Christmas fun! A bear family takes some of the village animals out for a spin in the sleigh—and ends up helping Santa deliver his toys! This merry Little Golden Book from 1964 is reissued for a new generation to enjoy.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book turned out to be unintentionally hilarious... but only because it was horrifying.

The story starts out with a bear family out in their sleigh. Things quickly devolve from there, though, starting with Papa Bear cracking his whip at the poor horse, Hubert... who it's stated loves pulling the sleigh. Sure he does. (Seems more like an excuse to use poor Hubert for labour, but whatever.) That's just the beginning of this weirdly speciesist tale. Why are bears using a horse in the first place? Things start to get ugly, though, as more friends--other animals--pile into the sleigh. Soon they're all bundled up in furs. Furs. At that point, I just about lost it. Whose furs? There are bears, rabbits, a raccoon, and a seal in that sleigh, all of which are fur-bearing animals. At this point, I started to wonder if this was some sort of horror picture book for kids.

Soon, they meet Santa, who has a bit of a problem. His reindeer are sick and are back at home tucked in bed with their tea and warm socks (who knew reindeer wore socks?) so he needs some help delivering presents. The animals help him out, and Santa goes on to merrily reinforce gender stereotypes by giving trains, boats, and rocking horses to the boys and dolls to the girls. Then, when he's done being a sexist old elf, they all go back to his place for dinner. Poor Esmeralda Ostrich has to sit at the dining table and watch everyone else eat a dead bird.

Before the animals head home, they check in on the sniffly reindeer. There are only six. I don't even want to ask what happened to the other two; based on some of the other disturbing elements in this book, I doubt it's a feel-good story. (Maybe they got eaten one year when there was a turkey shortage.)

The pictures are kind of creepy, almost (but not quite) in the style of Gustav Tenggren, who illustrated quite a few of these Little Golden Books. The animals look like they're on drugs, in any case.

I may have read this one when I was little, considering it's been around a lot longer than I have. But if I did, I obviously didn't pick up on how creepy it is. I'll be remembering this one now for all the wrong reasons.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.33 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment