Starting week two in our Christmas picture book advent, let’s look at a short and lovely Golden Book. Taking the classic Christmas song of “Jingle Bells,” this little gem adds a story about a group of merry animals in their one-horse open sleigh who stumble upon the great Santa Claus himself stranded and in need of help on a cold Christmas Eve. A fun tale woven by Kathleen N. Daly and darling illustrations by the wonderful J. P. Miller, this is Jingle Bells a Little Golden Book from 1964.
The Bear family starts off the Christmas Eve adventure by dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. The text continues with a mixture of song lyrics in bold red text combined with a finishing statement that carries the story along.
The Bears happen upon their friends one by one and invite them for the ride. All is going well, singing a sleighing song together, until a voice yells “Stop!” With a plead for help, Santa shares his tale of woe that his reindeer have all caught cold and are stuck in bed. He joins the troop and for the first time delivers all his gifts in a one-horse open sleigh. After a long, eventful night, the whole crew end up back at Santa’s house where Mrs. Claus rewards them with a Christmas dinner just right for all the animals involved. Presents for all, a check-in on the sickly reindeer, and the sled-full head back home singing their merry song of, you guessed it, “Jingle Bells.”
The story is simple and written well for small ears and the illustrations are just so darling! It is a fun concept, adding a silly story around a familiar song, and the duo pull it off delightfully. Kathleen Daly is a name often seen in vintage books and as far as I can tell she was an editor of some sort, creating sweet little books from other text and ideas. J. P. Miller is always a collectible illustrator and these sweet images are evidence to that fact. The only side affect of this charming little book is getting that famous Christmas tune swirling in your head!
Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas in 2013.