The StoryThe plot of Home For Christmas revolves around a naughty little troll named Rollo. The fact that Rollo still has a tail shows that he is not a well-behaved troll. The only way to get a troll tail to drop off is "if a troll is kind, helpful and does his chores." Rollo hates to do chores and gets very angry when asked to help anyone in his family. In fact, one day when Mama Troll, Papa Troll and Little Sister ask Rollo to help, he gets so mad that he runs away.
Rollo walks across the tundra until he gets tired, at which point he climbs into an owl's nest where he happily lives among the Mother Owl and her owlets until.... Rollo is off again and joins a bear family until.... Then, he joins a gang of otters until.... While all of this has been going on, the weather has gotten colder and the snow deeper. Rollo has great fun in the snow with a new friend, Lynx, until... Rollo's last stop is with a family of moose until... At that point, Rollo is very homesick and begins to cry. His trip home is an amazing surprise.
Rollo's family welcomes him home with joy. All of his experiences have made Rollo appreciate his family. Naughty Rollo is now "kind, helpful and does his chores." In fact, without realizing it, Rollo has lost his tail. A quick look at the border shows that the tail has become a new toy for the family's cat, just one example of the fun that can be found from in Brett's borders.
The IllustrationsJan Brett is known for her distinctive illustrations in watercolors and gouache. Her fine detailing, her appealing characters (trolls, humans and animals), and her use of large detailed illustrations that are surrounded by elaborate borders with spot illustrations within that extend the story combine to make a book illustrated by Jan Brett instantly recognizable and appealing.
Jan Brett is also known for the research she does in writing her books. She makes a practice of traveling to the sites she wants to use as the settings for her children's picture books. For Home for Christmas, Jan Brett reports, "In May of 2010 my husband Joe and I traveled to Sweden to see where Rollo, my runaway troll, might live. My favorite visit was to Kiruna, the jumping off place to Sweden's Arctic North. Might it be because it was there that I met my Moose family?"
Home for Christmas is a very festive book, from the cover art showing Rollo riding through the snow up on the antlers of a moose, to the intricate borders on every page to the artwork on the endpapers - a riot of greenery and Christmas decorations, including cookies, red and white toadstools, woven hearts, stars and white doves.
Author and Illustrator Jan BrettThere are more than 37 million copies of Jan Brett books in print. Author/illustrator Jan Brett has been creating children's picture books since 1980. By the time Home for Christmas was published in 2011, Jan Brett had illustrated nine picture books, written and illustrated 20 picture books and retold and illustrated nine picture books.
Among the books Jan Brett has written and illustrated are The Easter Egg, Hedgie's Surprise and The Hat. Her illustrated retellings include: The Three Snow Bears, Gingerbread Baby and The Mitten. Among the writing by others that Brett has illustrated are The Owl and the Pussycat and Mother's Day Mice. (Source: Jan Brett's Official Web site)
Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury includes a mix of writing by others, along with retellings and original stories by Brett. The seven illustrated stories include: "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "The Night Before Christmas," "Christmas Trolls" and "The Wild Christmas Reindeer."
My RecommendationI recommend Home For Christmas for ages 3-7. It may also appeal to 8- and 9-year-olds who are intrigued by the amount of detail in Jan Brett's illustrations, particularly her borders. While the story is not as strong as the illustrations, it is an entertaining story, one that should resonate with kids who hate to do chores. The illustrations are, as is usually the case with a Jan Brett book, a delight. (G.P. Putnam's Sons, An Imprint of Penguin Group, 2011. ISBN: 9780399256530)
(Sources: Jan Brett's books and Jan Brett's Official Web site)