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JEOFFRY’S CHRISTMAS by Mary Bryant Bailey


by Mary Bryant Bailey & illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-33676-8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In her first work for children, Bailey provides a rhyming text about an orange-striped cat that catches a ride in Santa’s sleigh. The first-person text follows Jeoffry on a tree-finding mission as he rides in a horse-drawn sleigh with his owner. This man is an elderly farmer with a white beard, fur hat, and red jacket who bears quite a resemblance to another famous sleigh owner, which might be a tad confusing to younger children. After finding the tree, Jeoffry loses his way, climbs into a handy sack, and ends up airborne in Santa’s reindeer-drawn sleigh. Jeoffry is allowed to pass out customized food treats to all the animals of the world in a whirlwind of Christmas giving (and a pleasant alternative to material gifts). Bailey’s rhymes can be delightful, as in the rhyming lists of food treats, but many lines are unevenly metered and don’t scan well. Her idea is appealing, however, and Sayles (Martin and the Giant Lions, not reviewed, etc.) adds to the effort with her soft, misty-edged illustrations in a wintry palette of woodland hues. Nature-loving parents may particularly appreciate a Christmas story that focuses on providing sustenance for those less fortunate. (Picture book. 3-6)