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Bookends: Across the country in a dozen fun-filled days February 11, 2016

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Uncategorized.
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Bookends: Across the country in a dozen fun-filled days

By Dan Davidson

December 21, 2015

– 706 words –


The Twelve Days of Christmas in Canada

Written by Ellen Warwick

Illustrated by 12 days

Sterling Children’s Books

36 pages



The notion behind this little book is that we are asked to see it as the diary of an English girl who is spending the 12 days of Christmas exploring a good deal of the lower slice of our country, mostly the part where the majority of the people live. She has been gifted this trip by her Canadian cousin, Theo. His letter to her opens the text portion of the book. He warns her to bring her woolies, the mittens and hat (on which they missed a bet by not calling it a toque) because Canada, aside from being cool, is also “c-c-c-cold at Christmastime”.

On her vacation trip she manages to hit all 10 provinces, but the territories just get what amounts to footnote glimpses.

Part of this omission is no doubt due to the page limitations of the standard children’s picture book. This one has 36 pages, and has managed to make full use of its end papers, bumping it up to 40. There’s a big map at the front showing the route of Juliette’s excursion and the various ways in which she travels: plane, boat, train, car.

She touches down in Charlottetown, St. John’s, Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Drumheller, Vancouver, and Victoria. At each location she pens a letter to one of her parents. This takes up the left page, while the right is full of vibrant computer generated artwork.

The Victoria segment is followed by a double splash page, providing a visual summary of the events and sights in the book.

A three page “Canada: From Sea to Sea” section provides lists of interesting facts about the country: cities, people, inventions, records, landmarks, history and nature.

The back end-paper spread, “Canada from ‘Eh’ to Zed”, is a huge bulletin board covered with mementos of the trip, including a lot of references to places Juliette didn’t visit. As a brief glance at our territory, there’s a flier from the Northern Lights Centre and the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, and a ticket stub from the Dawson City Music Festival. There are a couple of Inuksuk related items from Nunavut and a blue ribbon log-sawing prize that shouts out to the NWT.

Now a book with that title has to be referencing the original “12 Days of Christmas” and so this one has its own cumulative rhyme, beginning “On the first day of Christmas, my cousin gave to me … a loon in a maple tree.”

Now, you might wonder what a loon, called Maple, of course, is doing up in a tree instead of on a lake, but that crazy loon follows Juliette and her cousin, Theo, across the country and is an amusing part of their continuing adventures.

These involve 2 mummers’ masks, 3 lobsters, 4 fiddles wild, 5 golden bagels, 6 Mounties marching, 7 streetcars ringing, 8 bears a-swimming, 9 sled dogs howling, 10 players skating, 11 snowboards shredding and 12 orcas breaching.

All of this is a good bit of fun and quite exciting stuff, but I do have to register a few complaints.

There’s nothing for the North in here. The polar bears are in a zoo in Winnipeg, and the sled dogs are somewhere near Saskatoon. The bulletin board references really aren’t enough.

It’s pretty much customary these days to refer to Canada as stretching from sea to sea to sea rather than as headed in the text pages, but this book doesn’t go there.

Finally, the reference to a “ceilidh” (kay-lee), as a type of Acadian party, will be something of a shock to all those of Celtic background. I’m sure the Acadian French have a word that means much the same thing, but that word is Gaelic, not Gallic.

Those exceptions aside, this is a clever little book and one that i am sure its target audience will appreciate. Oh, and you can sing the poem. I gave it a try.


– 30 –



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