________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 19 . . . . May 23, 2003


Sebastian’s Collection Connection.

Gwen Molnar. Illustrated by Mia Hansen.
Vancouver, BC: Hodgepog Books, 2001.
36 pp., pbk., $5.95.
ISBN 0-9686899-6-5.

Subject Heading:
Collectors and collecting-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Mary Thomas.

*** /4


Sebastian looked around Grandma Emily's kitchen. On a high shelf in the corner stood Grandma Emily's big glass piggy bank.

"Did you know that I'm collecting banks?" asked Sebastian.

"Well, that's nice," said Grandma Emily. "All I ever collected was tea cups."

"I thought you collected kids, too," said Sebastian. "Daddy said you had eight of them. Now THAT'S a collection."

Grandma Emily threw back her head and laughed. "And your daddy was the last one of them I collected."

"Grandma Emily," said Sebastian, putting his hand on her arm. "May I look at your bank?"


Sebastian has a problem. His cousin, Margaret, has come to stay, bringing her collection of Barbie dolls with her and, while he has no interest in Barbies, Sebastian decides that he does want a collection i.e., more than two of something. Consultation with his father fixes on his two coin banks as a basis to which his father promises to add both an old dime bank, when he has time to find it, and a new bank that he'll buy while he's away on his weekly sales trip. And Sebastian is sure that his grandmother Emily will give him her piggy bank for his collection. However, to his astonishment, Grandma Emily says no! Grandmothers are not supposed to do things like that to their grandsons. To compensate for his obvious disappointment, however, Grandma gives him his father's eldest brother's collection of lead soldiers, accompanied by reminiscences of how much Sebastian's father had liked Peter's soldiers, and how often he had played with them while Peter was away and then killed in Korea. Suddenly, the story ceases to focus on Sebastian's collection of banks and instead follows his search for a set of shelves on which to display the soldiers. Once found, the shelves need to be painted, then positioned in his father's study, and filled, ready to welcome him back from his week away from home. Both of them have collections now.

     This is a touching story of a boy doing something special for his father, something that is his own idea and that needs a good deal of initiative and work to bring off. In real life, this sort of effort is often not really appreciated, but, in this case, his father is as thrilled to get the soldiers as Sebastian was to organize the gift.

     Because Sebastian’s Collection Connection is meant for children who are just learning to read, but who want a "real" book rather than a picture book, it suffers from a somewhat stilted style due to repetitious phrasing and a rather peculiar use/non use of contractions such as "don't" and "isn't.” It seems to me that, if one wants to use both full and contracted forms, it would make sense to use the latter in direct speech and the former in descriptive passages, but here the usage seems fairly random, and the resultant flow of language is somewhat uneven. It is a gentle and humourous story, however, one which a child should enjoy reading which is, after all, exactly what it is trying to be.


Mary Thomas is on leave from her library jobs in Winnipeg schools and spending her time in Oxford, England, doing ... other library jobs, of course!

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

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