Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmermann

In this Canadian version of the 12 Days of Christmas, it was the title - A Porcupine in a Pine Tree - that first got my attention. Last winter, porcupines living near my mother's rural home denuded the bark from all of the pine trees that had been planted around her house nearly 20 years ago. None of those trees survived the damage. It's always good to be able to laugh at misfortunes like that, so I showed this picture book to her. It had the desired result: much laughter.

Helaine Becker plays well with word sounds (two caribou; six squirrels curling; nine loons canoeing) and her poem could easily be sung to the familiar tune.

After a porcupine feast
Werner Zimmermann's bright artwork supplements the text with lots of action. The "eight Mounties munching" have their box of donuts stolen by the "seven sled dogs sledding," for example. By the time the "ten Leafs a-leaping" enter, the tottering stack of five Stanley Cups has tumbled and the hockey players attempt to catch them. (When was the last time the Leafs won the Cup?)

The chaos builds until the porcupine restores harmony with a bit of magic at the end. The spindly Charlie Brown tree grows into a giant pine in the final illustration, ornamented with all of the iconic Canadian animals and people. The Stanley Cups are still out of the reach of any of the Leafs.

This is a book for preschoolers that the rest of the family will also enjoy.

1 comment:

Claire at Latitude said...

This looks delightful. The NZ equivalent, A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree, has been popular for 30 years. (Some people in your hemisphere will not know that a pukeko is a vibrantly coloured swamp hen and a ponga tree is a beautiful tree fern.)