Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 7 to 11
- Grade: 1 to 3
- Reading age: 7 to 11
An authentic tale about children living in the Arctic by one of the most acclaimed Inuit storytellers.
Life in the high Arctic is beautifully captured in this classic picture book by award-winning Inuit author Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. The year is 1955 and Arvaarluk and his friends watch as Rocky Parsons lands his plane on the ice in Repulse Bay, a tiny community “smack dab on the Arctic Circle.” Having never seen trees before, the children try to guess what the six green spindly things are that Rocky delivers. One of the boys has a brilliant idea: why not use them as baseball bats? Full of vibrant, richly-colored illustrations, this story gives young readers ages 5 to 8 a glimpse into a time, place, and culture that may be new to them. The Arctic way of life is realistically portrayed by the author, whose narrative voice resonates with the lilt of his native language, Inuktitut.
About the authors
Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak is an Inuit storyteller who grew up in Repulse Bay, NWT (now Naujaat, Nunavut). During his childhood, his family traveled by dog sled, living a traditional Inuit lifestyle. He is the author of many picture books, including Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails, winner of the Ruth Schwartz Award.
He won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature in 2008.
Vladyana Krykorka has illustrated and designed over 30 books for children. Her work has received numerous awards, including the Toronto Public Library’s recognition of Baseball Bats for Christmas as one of the 100 best children’s books of all time. In the last two years she has conducted art workshops in several Quebec Arctic communities, working with Inuit teachers in the creation of their own books and class materials, as well as textile printmaking techniques.
“A charming book that offers a glimpse into Inuit life in 1955.”
The Ladybug Reads, 12/14/20
Baseball Bats for ChristmasThis delightful Canadian classic has remained popular since 1990. It tells the tale of “the standing-ups”: Christmas trees, delivered by a bush pilot to the treeless Arctic Circle village of Repulse Bay in 1955. The contemporary reader is charmed by the lively, humorous glimpses into the traditional Inuit life of seven-year-old Arvaarluk and his family’s generosity and warmth. One of the village boys, Yvo, who is the strongest and smartest, decides that the strange trees can be made into baseball bats. All the children revel in the sport for a full year. The narrative is matched by vibrant illustrations.
Kusugak wrote A Promise is a Promise with Robert Munsch. Krykorka has illustrated all of Kusugak’s books.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.
Canadian classic storybook with lovely artDisclaimer: review based off of NetGalley proof
I have a feeling I must have read this as a kid; seems to be a rerelease of a book from the '90s. Definitely has that nostalgic feel either way. There's a strong storytelling tone to it, and it's more storybook length than picture book. I'd recommend for early readers, elementary schoolers, or as a read-aloud to toddlers. Lovely, painterly art supports the story of a remote Canadian-Inuit community sometime last century. Fits in with other historical fiction efforts that convey a sense of a simpler time, making your own fun, community and family. The snowy landscape and Christmas references could make it a good holiday gift for children, and I could see it being a teaching tool as well for discussions of Canada's past, the experience of remote communities and First Nations.