The Naughtiest Reindeer at the Zoo
Allen & Unwin, 2015
32pp., hbk., RRP $A15.99
Last year when Rudolph was too sick to lead Santa’s sleigh, Santa made the mistake of getting his cousin Ruby to do the job and she created havoc in the homes near Granny’s place and so when the opportunity to leave her behind arose, Santa grasped it. This time when the family go away to spend Christmas with Granny and Pa, they leave Ruby at the zoo.
Poor Ruby. She feels lonely and abandoned at the zoo which is quiet and no fun at all. When Polly the cockatoo tells her that the zoo is the worst place to be on Christmas Day, she is even more disheartened.
Oi, red nose!” a voice squeaked. “Don’t make such a fuss!
There’s no joy at Christmas for any of us.
No parties. No presents, no jingle bells here,
At the zoo it’s the lonesomest day of the year.”
Dismayed that even Santa doesn’t visit on the one day in the year that the zoo is closed, Ruby dreams up a plan to bring some fun and Christmas cheer to her other inmates. It starts with finding the spare key to the cages and finishes in disaster as Ruby does not understand the concept of a food chain. Amidst the chaos, Ruby spots Santa high in the sky with his trusty, reliable, well-behaved reindeer and immediately knows that this is the answer to the problem. Or is it? Because Ruby’s solutions often lead to bigger problems…
Nicki Greenberg has created another fun story which rollicks along in rhyming verse pulling listeners and readers along towards its crescendo. The action-packed pictures all add to the atmosphere of mayhem and bedlam and you wonder if calm will ever be restored to what should be the most peaceful night of the year.
Young audiences will be drawn into this story with Ruby becoming a favourite character so they will demand that it be read over and over. But that’s okay because there is so much in both the text (like the echo of that other famous Christmas poem) and the pictures that each read is a new adventure. Definitely in the Christmas Countdown collection along with the original story. A double dose for special children.