Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Contemporary Christmas Story

Title: Baseball Bats for Christmas
Author: Michael Arvaanluk Kusugak
Illustrator: Vladyana Krykorka
Publisher: Annick Press, LTD
ISBN: 1-55037-145-2; 24 pages; Book Level 4.4 Interest Level K-3

Baseball Bats for Christmas is based on a childhood memory of the author. Michael Arvaanluk Kusugak draws on his own experiences as a youngster growing up in Repulse Bay, in 1955. He shares a glimpse of his Inuit culture and traditions as he tells the story of his first "standy-ups". He and his baseball loving friends are puzzled, then delighted when Rocky Parsons, bush pilot, leaves 6 spindly "standy-ups" in front of the Hudson Bay Store. Michael shows the humor that often accompanies misunderstandings when cultures interact.

The author and illustrator have worked together on other books. Their first book together was "A Promise is a Promise" that Michael co-wrote with Robert Munsch. Vladyana Kryorka, the illustrator was born in Czechoslovakia now known as the Czech Republic. She has received several awards for her illustrations.

I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it as a read aloud in the library or classroom. This story would make a great introduction to writing personal experiences and memoir writing for older students. The illustrations meld with the text and are an integral part of the book. The visual element helps the reader to intuitively understand the rugged terrain and the tenacious people that call the Northwest Territory home.

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