The Worker in Sandalwood


32 pages
ISBN 1-895555-10-8
DDC jC813'.52





Illustrations by Frances Tyrrell

Caroline M. Hallsworth is a librarian at Cambrian College in Sudbury.


This is the story of 14-year-old Hyacinth, a Quebec cabinetmaker’s
apprentice. Hyacinth is cruelly treated and abused by his master, who
locks him in a shed on Christmas Eve in order that Hyacinth may finish
an ornate sandalwood cabinet. Hyacinth is nearly paralyzed with
exhaustion, cold, and hunger, and fears he will be unable to complete
the task. However, a stranger comes to the shed, bearing tales of an
exotic land and extraordinary woodworking skills. Hyacinth is lulled to
sleep by the stranger’s voice and the strains of music; the stranger
completes the cabinet, leaving the reader with the thought that opens
the story: “I like to think this is a true story, but you who read it
may please yourselves.”

Tyrrell’s illustrations capture the magic of the tale and bring new
vibrancy to a classic story. Rich in exquisite detail, each picture is a
work of art unto itself. Tyrrell is to be commended for once again
revitalizing a traditional Canadian Christmas story.

This would be a special gift for any child (or adult) who still


Pickthall, Marjorie., “The Worker in Sandalwood,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 18, 2024,