Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Review - Richard Scarry's The Animals' Merry Christmas

Richard Scarry's The Animals' Merry Christmas
by Kathryn Jackson
illustrated by Richard Scarry
Date: 1950
Publisher: Golden Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 26
Format: e-book
Source: library

Today’s kids will love this holiday story collection, brought to life by Richard Scarry, of animals in cute winter clothing having merry, mischievous fun! Out of print since the 1950s, this Little Golden Book reissue is adapted from an oversized edition of the same title. Now this charming book is just the right size, and price, to give everyone on your list.

(see this book on Goodreads)

Little Golden Books brings us yet another strange book featuring stoned-looking animals and extremely simple stories. I don't remember reading this one when I was a kid, and we read lots of Little Golden Books; nothing seemed familiar, in any case.

This book is actually a collection of short stories and poems. My reactions to them varied quite a bit, so I thought I'd say a few words about each one:

"Mr. Hedgehog's Christmas Present" - This is a simple little story about a hedgehog trying to find a gift for his wife. In the end, it turns out to be as simple as giving her the apple he finds on the street (after polishing it up nice first). It's an okay story, but very short.

"Green Christmas" - This one is the first of a couple of poems. It talks about a Christmas without snow. The animals lament all the things they won't have... but then find pleasure in the things they will have instead. It's kind of a nice sentiment, especially since there are lots of kids who celebrate Christmas during the summer, or who simply don't get snow for whatever reason.

"The Singing Christmas Tree" - This story is about a little fawn who sees a Christmas tree in a human window and wishes he had one of his own, complete with twinkling lights and decorations. His mother concocts a plan to make it happen for him... and while the tree turns out not to be like the humans', it's perhaps even better.

"The Cold Little Squirrel" - This story will eventually end in tears. Basically, there's a little squirrel who's always cold. So he goes out and tries to find warmth. He finds a house and climbs up to the chimney, where he hears a little raccoon girl inside wishing Santa would bring her a real live doll. The squirrel slips and falls down the chimney, the raccoon girl thinks her wish has been granted, and the squirrel is warm... for now. (I just can't help wondering what's going to happen when the squirrel gets tired of being a toy and wants to go home.)

"The Long-Ago Donkey" - This is a take on the Nativity story that perpetuates the myth that Jesus was born in the middle of winter; much emphasis is made about the cold. The story itself is too simple, and the donkey comes around to his mother's way of thinking so quickly that it almost seems like there's something wrong with him. (He's highly suggestible, in any case.) Some of the illustrations in this one are just weird; there's one scene that looks like the baby Jesus is being shot with a laser beam.

"A Very Small Christmas" - This is the second of the two poems in the book, and it's about chipmunks getting ready for Christmas, going to bed, and waking up to find a tree decked out in peanuts and tiny candles. It's fairly cute.

I think I enjoyed the poems more than most of the stories, although "The Singing Christmas Tree" was pretty cute. Overall, this isn't a terrible collection.

I still feel sorry for that squirrel, though.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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