________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007

cover

Penguin’s Special Christmas Tree.

Jeannie St. John Taylor. Illustrated by Molly Idle.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2007.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897073-64-3 (pbk.)., ISBN 978-1-897073-61-2 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Penguins-Juvenile fiction.
Christmas stories, American.

Preschool-Kindergarten / Ages 2-5.

Review by Renée Englot.

**½ /4

excerpt:

"I'll think of something. I'm thinking. Still thinking. Got it! Too much green?"

"Let's try working together."

"Santa loves handmade stuff."

"Not enough colour?"

"This just won't work."

 

Penguin wants to win Santa's award for Christmas tree decorating. Penguin's friend, a fuchsia angel, volunteers to help. She offers up a frog, a snowman, a tire, a monkey, a traffic light, and decorations from a variety of other holidays, none of which suit. Finally, in frustration, she sits atop the tree to consider alternatives, and Penguin decides he's found his tree topper. They, of course, win Santa's award. 

internal art

     This cheery little Christmas story will work well for the toddler crowd. Its bright colours will attract attention. The cardstock tree ornament at the end of the book will make it an appealing gift. It's short enough that even very young audiences shouldn't lose interest. And its silly situations will bring giggles if the book is well presented. However, the text requires readers (or listeners, as the case may be) to read the pictures. The text gives away very little information, rarely identifying what is being placed on the tree. If used as a conversation starter, it could be effective. On the other hand, if the text is simply read, the presentation will fall flat.

     Penguin's Special Christmas Tree can be used to illustrate the importance both of teamwork and determination. It will capitalize on the current popularity of penguins. Unfortunately, Penguin's Special Christmas Tree just isn't very special. Apart from its focus on the youngest of listeners, there's little to recommend it above any of the many other holiday titles available. 

Recommended with reservations.

Renée Englot is a former junior high school teacher now working as a professional storyteller in school settings.  She holds a Master of Arts in Children's Literature.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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