In this debut illustrated chapter book, Dad works a little too hard on the outdoor Christmas lights.
The holidays are coming, and Papa Grod is determined that his family’s Christmas light display will be the best ever. He especially wants to impress Mama Grod, who was unhappy that last year’s lights looked “ ‘scruffy’ and ‘hodge-podgey’ and ‘tacky.’ ” (Papa didn’t get around to taking those lights down until July, and the summer heat certainly didn’t help their condition.) After special trips to stores in town to find light hangers and the blue and violet bulbs that Mama prefers, Papa can’t wait to decorate the roof. And, after all his work, he isn’t going to worry that he may have missed something when he tries to fix a hitch in the installation process. But what Papa has overlooked soon becomes clear when it begins to rain. (And maybe Papa won’t mention the Christmas lights in his holiday letter after all.) In this children’s book, Gord Yakimow deftly combines a story of relatable family life with humor and a fantasy twist. In the colorful, detailed illustrations conceptualized by John Yakimow, the author’s son, and engagingly rendered by Schultz, the Grods are like all the inhabitants in the Valley of the EverGreens. They are tubby, gray, bulbous-nosed, big-eyed folk of indeterminate origin. Papa is endearingly well intentioned, and the love the family members feel for one another—even when Mama and the Grod children (Sister, Gordie, and Tommie) view the Christmas décor with varying degrees of enthusiasm—warms the narrative. A hint that more books featuring the Grods may be forthcoming can be found in the author’s mention of their past adventures in the “Far-off Territory of the North,” where they lived in a “lovely log cabin beside a beautiful clear lake.” The work ends with a sample Scottish-themed menu from the restaurant where the family had a celebratory meal before Papa’s efforts proved unfortunate, complete with a quote by Robert Burns that’s cleverly apt: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
Appealing characters and lively storytelling suggest a welcome series in the making.
- Kirkus Reviews