December 02, 2016

Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol

by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Werner Zimmerman
North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada
978-1-4431-4836-8
32 pp.
Ages 3-8
October, 2016

Deck the Halls is Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman’s third picture book in their A Canadian Christmas Carol collection in which classic Christmas carols become quintessential Canadian Christmas stories.  The award-winning A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic, 2010) was a reworked version of the carol “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and Dashing Through the Snow  (Scholastic, 2014) was based on “Jingle Bells.”  By adding “Deck the Halls” to that repertoire, Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman are firmly establishing themselves as the duo that’s making Christmas music Canadian and relevant to Canadian children today.
From Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol 
by Helaine Becker 
illus. by Werner Zimmerman
Some of the animals characteristic of Canada who first made their appearance in A Porcupine in a Pine Tree have gathered to decorate the house for the holidays and celebrate.  There’s the famous porcupine leading the endeavour with a wreath, the beavers appropriately getting the tree set up, and loons, muskoxen, caribou, bears, raccoons, sled dogs, otters, moose, puffins, squirrels and hockey-playing grey wolves getting up to all kinds of Christmas shenanigans.  There’s the bounty of food, and the warmth of Christmas sweaters, the burning of yule logs, the wrapping of presents and the singing of carols, along with some high-spirited young ones racing around.  With each page and verse, the scene becomes more chaotic and lively and animated.  It’s a Canadian Christmas through and through, with the carol “Deck the Hall” now more Canadian than any version we’ve ever known!

So deck the halls
with boughs of holly,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la.

Make your True North
Christmas jolly!
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! 
From Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol 
by Helaine Becker 
illus. by Werner Zimmerman
Helaine Becker has created another Canadian classic from a favourite Christmas carol and, with the music appended to her story, I can already hear little ones having Christmas singing fun.  The Australians have their “Six White Boomers” and now we have three of our own Canadian takes on classic carols.  Of course, Werner Zimmerman’s entertaining illustrations bring life to the carol, adding detail and joie de vivre to the fresh lyrics.  There is so much to discover in his illustrations that young readers will be rereading the text–more like singing it over and over again–just to pick out the Sasquatch cradling baby raccoons, or puffins with their Christmas crackers, or the hard-hatted beavers constructing the tree, or the curious otter peering at the napping polar bear. Every page is a delight and will charm small eyes who’ll want to pick out all the Christmas fun being had.  
From Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol 
by Helaine Becker 
illus. by Werner Zimmerman
Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol is the first new release of the season that has Christmas singing in my head and lightening my heart with joy.   Thank you, Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman.

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