The Red Sledge / We’re Going on a Sleigh Ride

The Red Sledge
Mick Jackson and Victoria Ball
Walker Books

Mabel Taylor is thrilled with her shiny new red sledge. She dresses herself warmly and opens her front door only to find – no snow. Back indoors she sits in her sledge and starts to imagine …
She visualises herself as a bobsleigh champion and next morning, quite excited, she races to open the curtains. But what does she see; no snow at all. Back in her sledge she gets and this time she imagines herself as a polar explorer dragging her laden sledge and trudging through the deep snow. ‘Tomorrow it might just snow, she thinks. 

The following morning, a little bit excited she opens the door and peeps out only to find – you’ve guessed it – not a single snowflake has fallen. Again she sits in that sledge and takes on the Father Christmas persona, with her sledge being drawn by four reindeer. Next morning convinced there won’t be any snow she almost fails to notice what is happening through her window: heavy snow is falling – whoopee!
Warmly wrapped up, she crosses the field, climbs the steep hill and pausing to take in the view, gets into that sledge, breathes deeply and Wheeeeeeeeee! She’s off at last.

Although it’s not mentioned, in the words, young children will likely deduce from the excited look on the child’s face in the first illustration, that Mabel’s sledge is a Christmas present. I love the way she copes with the disappointments of no snow, turning them into opportunities for imagined indoor adventures.

We’re Going on a Sleigh Ride
Martha Mumford and Cherie Zamazing
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Having chased elves, hunted for eggs and treasure in previous books, it’s now Christmas Eve, time for Martha Mumford’s bunnies to wrap up warm, load the presents and take off on a round the world sleigh ride with Santa and his reindeer. Much of the rhyming text comprises the refrain “We’re going on a sleigh ride./ HO! HO! HO!” along with some onomatopoeia (‘Honk! Honk!’ ‘Ding-a-ling-aling!’) and more. Readers and listeners meanwhile can have fun hunting alternate spreads for the hidden gifts and watching their tally mount and they reveal them.

The narrative zips along merrily and Cherie Zamazing’s jolly watercolour illustrations show the varied locations visited with all kinds of animals enjoying the spectacle of the sleigh whooshing by. I suspect little ones will relish the sight of Santa with his feet waving from a chimney top, down which, aided by one of the four reindeer, he’s attempting to enter a house.

With lots of flaps to explore, this is a perfect Christmas Eve read together and equally, the simple text makes it ideal for those in the early stages of reading for themselves.

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