Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kangaroo For Christmas

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

What is the story about?

The day before Christmas a young girl, Kathryn, receives a large box from her Uncle Dingo. Inside the box is a kangaroo. Kathryn is delighted with this gift and quickly announces that they will be best friends. Kathryn names her new marsupial friend Adelaide.

Kathryn decides to take Adelaide to visit her grandma. Once out in the street, Adelaide gets a fright when a dog barks and it causes her to start hopping. She hops first over people's heads, then over cars. Too scared to stop, Adelaide hops through a grocery store, a bakery and a toy store. Exasperated, Kathryn tells Adelaide she should act like a lady and stop hopping.

The request works, but then a truck comes along and scares Adelaide all over again. She starts hopping like mad until they reach Grandma's house. A new problem arises though: Adelaide accidently jumps into a pan of taffy that has been cooling out the front of Grandma's house. Adelaide then jumps on top of Grandma's electric car and her feet get stuck there.

Grandma decides that enough is enough, and that they should all drive back to Kathryn's house, with Adelaide still attached to the car roof. But Adelaide gets scared again and jumps all the way to Kathryn's house, dragging the car along with her and making for a very bumpy ride.

Once home the taffy is removed from Adelaide's feet and she relaxes. Kathryn hopes that Santa Claus will bring Adelaide some comfy books for her tired feet and some birch leaves to eat. Kathryn's wish comes true, and Santa even brings Kathryn a pogo stick!

Who wrote and illustrated the book?

American illustrator James Flora (1914-1918) wrote the story and illustrated the book. He was a famous commercial artist between the 1940s and 1980s. Born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, he got his first job in 1942 working for Columbia Records and made some really groovy album covers for them. Not surprisingly, he was a fan of jazz and classical music.

Why I liked this book

The best thing about Kangaroo for Christmas is the wild and wonderful drawings. James Flora's illustrations have a brilliant energy and humour about them. The very 'hoppiness' of the images and story reminds of Flora's love of  jazz music with its syncopated rhythms. Or as his biographer Irwin Chusid said, Flora 'crafted rhythmic design in unfathomable meters' How true!

Kangaroo for Christmas, by James Flora. Published by HP Egmont. ISBN: 9781742972770  RRP: $19.95