Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The First Christmas Sweater

Tubridy, Ryan and Judge, Chris (illus.) The First Christmas Sweater
September 10th 2019 by Walker Books US
Personal copy

Hillary the sheep gets along well on the Irish farm where she is being raised. She enjoys making lists, hanging out with her fellow sheep, and dreaming about Christmas. Luckily, Farmer Jimmy, his wife Orla, and the other sheep are all very accepting of Hillary's big difference-- instead of having snowy white wool, she has multicolored fleece! When Hillary hears from her friend Didya the crow (who is always asking questions and talking a lot) that Santa is looking for wool for a Christmas sweater, Hillary hopes that he will visit her farm-- and he does! Of course, Hillary's wool is perfect for the decorated, colorful sweater Santa desires, and before she knows it, Hillary is off on a magical journey to the North Pole to get sheared. She meets the elves, reindeer, and Ms. Claus, and returns to her farm secure in the knowledge that her wool is keeping Santa warm on his rounds.
Strengths: This is a notebook novel, with large text and plentiful pictures. Since it is about Santa and Christmas, the elementary crowd will love it, but I have a large population of English Language Learners who are enthralled with this holiday, and this will be perfect for them. The characters are all well meaning, and even the one difficult sheep, Brian, is redeemed in the end.
Weaknesses: Having just read Parkes' Vanishing Fleece and attended the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, I'm pretty sure that Hillary could have been shorn in Ireland, and that she would not have needed a jacket to keep her warm after she was sheared. Also not sure Santa would have gotten his sweater quite so quickly. Ah, isn't that the problem of being a grown up-- we know too much!
What I really think: This will be one the students will pick up for fun. As a parent who always told my children that Santa did NOT exist but who also went to great lengths to build the mythology of Jeek and Glendle, rogue drunken elves who occasionally left presents in the trunk of the car or under the tree OUTSIDE, I give this book bonus points for expanding on the Santa mythos.

The author is a celebrity in Ireland. I don't know celebrities in the US anymore, so I didn't know this until I read the notes at the back!
Ms. Yingling

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