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The Animals' Merry Christmas    by Kathryn Jackson & Richard Scarry order for
Animals' Merry Christmas
by Kathryn Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Golden Books, 2005 (2005)

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Eighteen Christmas stories are gathered in this luscious oversize book, whose gold-flecked, animal-active cover depicts a bear on a ladder placing the star on top of the Christmas tree. The illustrations (from a 1950s Richard Scarry collection) are in true-to-the-eye colors (the real red-color of a fox is my favorite), and the animals, Santa, and outdoor scenes are shown true-to-form.

A little deer hurries home to tell Mother about the glittering tree he saw in a house window. After she explains it is a Christmas tree, the little deer wants one too. In the woods, they decorate a tree with berries, shoots, and tender roots. After birds of all kind settle on the branches, it becomes The Singing Christmas Tree. Set in rhyme is A Pig's Christmas - 'A pig went to market, / His heart full of glee, / To buy his friends presents.' He is so happy about what he finds that he buys gifts for himself instead! 'But it wasn't much fun giving things to himself.' Woodland creatures collect seeds, shoots, fern and fennel for their Green Christmas sans snow. The townsfolk wait for the snow to come down. '"BUT - Hurrah for Christmas and still no snow!" / Cry the woodland creatures, and out they go.' The mice create Mouse Christmas cheer as they busily gather a little of this and pieces of that, 'Oh, the wonderful bits / That folks drop as they go ... Citron and raisins, / Sugar and currants ... tinsel and ribbon ... and shavings of chocolate ... It's NICE to be mice!'

The Snowshoe Rabbits are all excited about traveling to Grandma's for Christmas. There will be a tree decorated with popcorn and berries, and Grandpa will play his piano as they all sing Christmas Carols. Yum! yum! Dinner with roasted carrots, and 'a round pudding all lighted up, with holly on top!' But, oh dear, it snows heavily during the night, and the rabbits sigh that they will not be able to travel. Aha! Dad has the solution - snowshoes! In another tale, 'Trumpet was a big, friendly elephant who lived all alone in a small zoo.' He knew many things about children playing games, and raking leaves. Best of all, Trumpet knew all about Christmas. He had one wish - a very big one. Trumpet felt, 'I want somebody to keep me company.' Does Trumpet's wish come true on Christmas morn, to give him A Very Big Christmas? I hope so, don't you?

The Animals' Merry Christmas also includes Mr. Hedgehog's Christmas Present; A Very Small Christmas; Terrible Teddy Bear; The Naughty Little Reindeer; The Golden Sled; The Cold Little Squirrel; The Goat Who Played Santa Claus; The Secret Ride; The Goose That Stuffed Herself; The Bare Polar Bear; Surprise!; and The Christmas Puppy. Start reading this great book early, as Christmas will be here before you know it.

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