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A Happy New Year's Day    by Roch Carrier & Gilles Pelletier order for
Happy New Year's Day
by Roch Carrier
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 1991 (1991)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the tale (charmingly illustrated in a folksy style by Gilles Pelletier) of a 1941 New Year in a small Quebec village near the U.S. border. The story is aimed at ages 6 and up.

A four-year-old boy tells us about the first New Year's Day that he can remember, of being entranced by the mystery of the radio, and interested in newspaper images of soldiers at war. He then goes back in time a few months to lead us through family preparations for the holidays - brewing cherry wine, painting the sleighs, baking tourtières and fruit and sugar pies, and preparing home made chocolates and candies.

The tree is decorated, the crèche set up underneath it, and its figures rescued from the attentions of the family cat. There is Midnight Mass and then the big day arrives. A ceremonial snowmobile drive takes the family the short distance to the home of the boy's grandparents, where all the aunts, uncles and cousins get together to feast and sample cherry wine (even the visiting priest welcomes a jug). There is music and much merriment.

A Happy New Year's Day is a delightful tale to share with small children, to let them see how different family life was in the old days - and yet how much the same.

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