Prather’s Pick: A Christmas book by Jan Brett
On Friday our great- grandson Brian (Prather) got to see Santa and his live reindeer as they arrived in the town of Kenai, Alaska. That got me thinking about “The Wild Christmas Reindeer,” a picture book for children, written and illustrated by Jan Brett.
Brett is well-known for her Ukrainian folktales and her exquisite, detailed artwork. In this week’s book, for example, Brett has provided detail in the buildings, clothing, reindeer coats, mittens, stockings, and much more.
The story takes place in the Arctic, at Santa’s Winterfarm. Santa’s home looks more like a palace with its many differently-designed towers and a front gate with peppermint columns and antlers up above. Even the stable is adorned with reindeer heads, one on each end of the building.
There’s a lot going on inside, with preparations for Christmas Eve. In the columns of the book’s pages, the reader gets a peek at the elves as they hammer, paint, sew, and cook up candy canes. (The border pictures can be found in all of Brett’s books.)
Teeka, a young girl, lives near Winterfarm. When the reader meets her, she is dressed in a blue coat with a rose design stitched on it. She’s thinking about a job that Santa has given her—an important one. For the first time she is to gather up Santa’s reindeer that have been running wild on the tundra since last Christmas. Teeka knows that they may not want to come back to Winterfarm so she decides that she will have to be strong and firm.
Sure enough, the reindeer named Bramble, Heather, Windswept, Lichen, Snowball, Crag, Twilight, and Tundra aren’t so easy to halter, but before long Teeka has them gathered up. She hooks them all together, ready to head for Winterfarm. The reindeer have other ideas, though.
Teeka doesn’t realize that Tundra considers himself to be the leader so he doesn’t like being bossed around. He doesn’t like to be far away from Twilight, either, and Teeka has put her at the front and Tundra at the back. When she gets the reindeer back to the stable, Teeka puts Tundra and Twilight in separate stalls, and Tundra doesn’t like that, either. Teeka remains strong and firm.
The next morning all of the reindeer are upset, and when Teeka takes them outside for training, they won’t line up. The next day is no better. In fact, the reindeer end up in a big pile with their antlers hooked together. Teeka scolds them.
Teeka begins to cry. And then she realizes something.
The drawings of the reindeer are wonderful.
This week’s book was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1990. You can probably find the book in paperback. It can also be found in the children’s room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.