My book for today is a gorgeous reprint of a 1962 fantastic story by James Flora. It is the tale of a large package from an uncle containing a lovely kangaroo that gets just a little too nervous and causes havoc for a little girl and her family. Catch the fun with Kangaroo For Christmas by James Flora, from 1962 and now 2011.
Kathryn opens the door to the mail truck one day to discover a package from dear Uncle Dingo. She is thrilled to unveil not a large cat, but actually a lovely kangaroo. Despite it bouncing around the house and tearing up the room with its excitement, she does what any normal girl would do… call it Adelaide, comb its fur, and take it to see Grandma. The trip however becomes quite treacherous as poor Adelaide is not prepared for the noise and chaos of the outside world. Kathryn has to hang on and attempt to coax Adelaide to calm down and behave like a lady.
Although we never learn Adelaide’s origins, we can deduce that she is from a much quieter, less crowded environment. All the people and dogs, noise and lights make her lose control and bounce with all her strength to escape whatever dangers she perceives. It isn’t until they miraculously reach Grandma’s and a sticky situation takes the reins that everyone gets a much needed breather and things can be properly introduced to the overstimulated animal.
This story is a hoot! Alternating between black and white images and stunning vibrant colored ones (on uncoated paper too!), Flora has created a fast-paced, humorous account of a kangaroo released into the city. All of Flora’s books tend to be breathtaking in not only style, but also storyline, and this one is definitely my favorite so far. Everyone just takes the kangaroo going crazy in stride and the only panicked one is poor, distraught Adelaide. It is picture book hilarity at its best. From bouncing on cars, bounding through bakeries and toy stores, to landing on roller skates and passing over the electric wires; the fun just goes and goes until you finally get a breath (and comforting presents from Santa) in the end.
Originally published in 1962, the marvelous publisher – Enchanted Lion Books – has taken it upon themselves to not only publish fantastic new books, but also re-release gems like this one to be enjoyed by current and future generations as well. The quality of the reprints are outstanding, keeping to the black and white and color alternations (which would have originally been done to save cost), and also printing on my favorite uncoated paper and getting the gorgeous Flora color palettes to pop as they would have done in the 60s as well. These don’t feel like reprints which can be an unfortunate side effect of scanning old artwork. These are precious recreations. Thanks Enchanted Lion Books!
I’d be remiss to not tell you a bit about James Flora as I have yet to write about his books here even though he makes it on my list of favorites. He was a fabulous illustrator who not only created many great picture books, but also a slew of covetable jazz album covers from his time illustrating for RCA Victor and Columbia Records in the 40s and 50s. His style is dynamic, a bit crazy, and packed with color. While his picture books tend to be a bit long (thanks to the 60s attention span!), their pacing is always so quick and full of interesting details that I have never found it difficult to get through them with adults or little ones alike. You’ll always want to get a good breath before starting this kangaroo crazy tale, but the drama will be quite worth it and this Christmas book that only hints at the gifts from Santa in the end will be a refreshing adventure for the holiday season.
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas in 2013.