According to custom, there are 12 days of Christmas, that time in between the Big Day itself and the eve of the Epiphany.

Through the years, many of us have learned the song, Twelve Days of Christmas, as children. We sang it in choirs or classrooms, heard it on the radio, even puzzled about it on our own. Just what did some of these words mean? Visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads might have made sense from another tune, but this one, with “lords a-leaping” just stretched my imagination to the limit!

Well, I am happy to say that Helaine Becker, Toronto author, and Werner Zimmermann, Guelph illustrator, have teamed together to give us a colourful, comprehensible Canadian version in a book entitled: A Porcupine in a Pine Tree–A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas. There is a soft cuddly corresponding porcupine available to accompany the book published by North Winds Press, issued by Scholastic, a company that has given young reader a plethora of titles to read at holiday times and throughout the year.

I scanned the book cover!

Helaine Becker has selected 12 familiar characters of Canadian culture, ranging from an endearing porcupine, sturdy caribou, sled dogs, even the Stanley Cup! My favourite has to be “Ten Leafs a-leaping”.

There is an air of mischief and delight in the cumulative list of gifts, so well drawn by illustrator Werner Zimmerman.

Colourful drawings of bear cubs, puffins, even Mounties and sled dogs demonstrate Zimmerman’s talents with the use of watercolour, pencil, ink.

Young children will delight in an annual read or singing of this soon-to-be Canadian classic. A signed copy of this book was gifted to me and it will be added to my list of Christmas favourites!


Author: Patricia McGoldrick

Poet Writer Reviewer Environment, Nature, Agriculture, People, and History are favorite topics to write about. Upcycling materials into handmade books is a fun challenge!