________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 29. . . .March 30, 2012


The Best of Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer.

Bruce Nunn. Illustrated by Brenda Jones.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2011.
113 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-1-55109-871-5.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Lisa Hanson O'Hara.

**** /4



This compilation includes two stories: "Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer" and "Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer and the Boston Christmas Tree Adventure." Both feature Buddy, a reindeer with a blue nose who is a native Nova Scotian. Buddy's adventures revolve around Christmas, and, as a cousin of Rudolph's, Buddy's blue nose also has special capabilities.

     In the first story, Buddy is introduced as a mascot on board a Nova Scotia fishing schooner. He isn't particularly happy because the sailors won't let him play games with them. But, of course, one dark and stormy night, Buddy saves them all by lighting the way through a storm with his blue nose and saving both the ship and the crew. Bruce Nunn's humourous writing style is evident throughout the story, which is a sort of homage to the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" but also distinctly Nova Scotian:

On that drizzly, foggy eve of Christmas Eve, the captain came to say: "Buddy, with your nose so blue... won't you guide our schooner through?"

Sure enough, Buddy stepped forward on the slick, slanted deck. Rearing up, he fixed himself proudly in place at the bow of the bobbing schooner. He stuck his bright blue nose out over the bowsprit and lighted the schooner's way through the darkness, past the dangerous rocky shores where the waves were crashing.

Buddy stayed at his post until the vessel was guided right through the Atlantic storm and into calm waters. He saved the ship! And the crew too! Buddy came through the crisis with flying colours.

(And, just as an aside, THAT is why Nova Scotia's famous schooner is known to this day as "Bluenose"... because of that dear little deer, not afraid to stick his nose out when needed.)

     Nunn continues in this style writing:

Then, how the schooner crew loved him!

And they shouted out with glee! They pointed to the captain and shouted: "Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer... YOU'LL GO DOWN IN HIS DOR-Y"

     Of course, Santa witnesses Buddy's bravery and calls on him to guide his team of reindeer the following Christmas Eve when Rudolph goes down with a terrible cold and Buddy's inability to fly leads to a uniquely Nova Scotian solution.

internal artIn "Buddy and the Boston Christmas Tree Adventure," Nunn continues writing in the same style, this time basing the tale loosely on Clement Clark Moore's "The Night Before Christmas." Here, Buddy is involved in the choosing and delivery of a tree that is the annual gift of the people of Nova Scotia to the people of Boston in gratitude for their help in the Halifax harbour explosion. Buddy helps at every stage, from spotting the perfect tree (with Santa's help) to lighting it with his nose so the helicopter will see it, to helping explain to the family who owns the tree what it is about, to guiding the truck and boat that will bring it to Boston.

Nunn intersperses his version of "The Night Before Christmas" with narrative from the story:

The farm children were nestled
all snug in their beds.
While visions of helicopters
danced in their heads.


"Hey, that's not a vision," said young Rory to Frances.

Up, over the house
there arose such a clatter
He jumped up and ran
to see what was going on.

Or, you might say...

he sprang from his bed
to see what was the matter.

Yeah, that's better. Young Rory was so excited--

Away to the window
he flew like a flash.
he looked up and shuddered
and knocked over the trash.


"It really is a helicopter! Wake up! Wake up!" Rory called to Frances.

     Children will appreciate the casual style and in-jokes in both texts, and grown-ups will too. Brenda Jones' colourful illustrations are comical and lively and add to the enjoyment of the story. There are illustrations on almost every page, and they are very expressive and related directly to the page on which they're shown. Jones' talent for portraying the comic side of things is evident in the artwork in this book.

      The Best of Buddy the Bluenose Reindeer will make an excellent and very Maritime-Canadian addition to any library's collection of Christmas materials. Younger children may appreciate having it read to them, but older children will enjoy this "chapter book" all on their own.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Hanson O'Hara is a librarian and mother of three in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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