________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005


Aunt Olga’s Christmas Postcards.

Kevin Major. Illustrated by Bruce Roberts.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2005.
40 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 0-88899-593-8.

Subject Heading:
Christmas stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4



Great-great Aunt Olga is ninety-five. She calls herself a nonagenarian! We all think the world of her.

“She’s amazing,” my mother says.

“She’s quite the gal, all right,” my father says. “Even if she isn’t as sharp as she used to be.”

“I buy her purple and she refuses to wear it.”

“Suddenly all she will wear is red,” adds my father, shaking his head.

She’s just being Aunt Olga, that’s all. She loves red! It’s because Christmas is her favourite time of the year. Aunt Olga writes poetry and does tai chi and reads travel magazines. She collects Christmas postcards from around the world. My father says that some of them are as old as she is and just as rare.


internal artHere is another wonderful Christmas story from Kevin Major! His earlier and very successful The House of Wooden Santas (Red Deer College Press, 1997) uses the motif of carved wooden Santas in the telling of a heartwarming Christmas story. Here in his latest book, he once again uses objects as an essential ingredient in the building of relationships between people. This time, it is the vast collection of beautiful Christmas cards which Aunt Olga has collected from around the world during her life. Christmas time is when she shares her collection with her favourite niece, Anna. Decked out in red, Olga tells of the memories behind each of her cards and also teaches Anna how to write her very own Christmas rhymes. Quick gestural black line drawings of the characters are full of spark and are accented with swashes of watercolour ink. They are reminiscent of the work of Quentin Blake in their ebullience and ability to capture the essence of character with a few strokes. It is amazing how these whimsical light and airy vignettes work together with the reproductions of the postcards. Each of the pages is nicely designed, and their large format with plenty of white space adds to the light and generous feeling of the story.

internal art      The author adds a note on the history of the Christmas postcard and the later development of folded cards at the end of the story. On the inside back cover, there is a Christmas envelope with a reproduction of an antique card enclosed. This is a lovely ending to a very enjoyable story which can easily be read to young children. Adult collectors of paper objects will also admire Kevin Major’s personal collection of historical cards which are used to illustrate the story.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is a writer and artist living in Sidney, BC.

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

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