Thursday, December 8, 2011

1. Kangaroo for Christmas

Written & illustrated by James Flora
$16.95, ages 4 and up, 40 pages

A little girl gets a kangaroo for Christmas that takes her on a rollicking ride through busy city streets, in this joyful reissue, originally published nearly 50 years ago.

James Flora's gem will have readers in stitches as Kathryn holds on for dear life to the back of her skittish new pet, and the pair bounce and crash through obstacles to Grandma's house across town.

When Adelaide pops out of a crate from her uncle on Christmas Eve, Kathryn can't believe her eyes. A kangaroo from Australia -- just what she never knew she always wanted!

She must show grandma.

So the two leap out the door with matching pink-and-black scarves, ready to brave the nippy air, with Kathryn chirping out the first lines of Jingle Bells.

But before she can get to "Oh what fun," she's gulping down a big "Oh no!" A beefy dog with an even bigger bark has startled poor Adelaide, and she's shot off like a rubber band.

Rebounding off roofs of cars, Adelaide leaps pell-mell through windows, startling poor Mr. Zwicky in his bath, then through stores, each time riding out with a token from a collision inside.

Adelaide hops out of a bakery with a frosted three-tiered hat and her tail beaded with doughnuts, and launches out of the toy store with roller skates on her paws.

Every leap lands them in a more outrageous spot until they're zipping down electrical lines. Oh dear. But wait, isn't that Grandma's house below?

On Kathryn's cue, Adelaide leaps down, but oops. She's landed right in a big pan of taffy that Grandma's cooling on her porch. Startled, Adelaide ricochets off the pan and plunk, right on top of Grandma's fancy electrical car.

Uh oh. She's stuck. What will they ever do now?

Flora's classic is joy unleashed.

This is picture book that captures the delirious feeling a child has ripping open a gift, the gush of surprise that follows and her giddiness to love whatever is inside.

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