Baseball Bats for Christmas


21 pages
ISBN 1-55037-144-4
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Vladyana Langer Krykorka
Reviewed by E. Jane Philipps

E. Jane Philipps is a science librarian in the Biology Library at
Queen’s University.


The children of the community loved to play ball, but in a place with no
trees there were few sticks to use as bats. Seven-year-old Arvaarluk had
never seen a “standing-up” until six trees were delivered by plane
for Christmas. The children soon determined the true nature of the green
things with spindly branches: Rocky Parsons, the bush pilot, had brought
them baseball bats for Christmas.

The happy recollection of a spring and summer spent playing ball with
bats fashioned from Christmas trees provides the framework for scenes of
a childhood spent in Canada’s north. Baseball Bats for Christmas is
set in Repulse Bay, “Smack dab on the Arctic Circle,” where the
author spent his first 11 years. Text and illustrations combine to
provide a great deal of information, in a brief space, about Inuit
culture and about life in a remote northern community in the 1950s. This
information flows simply and naturally from the telling of the tale. We
learn about Inuit dress and games, and that “Christmas was a time when
you took your most favourite thing in the world and gave it to your very
best friend.” We learn about self-reliance, ingenuity, and sense of
community. Characters such as Rocky and Parsons and Father Didier—who
“was our priest, . . . our teacher and, when we were sick, . . . our
nurse”—provide a sense of the successful linking of two cultures.

The story is gently and at times lyrically written. The illustrations
enhance the text, and at their best convey the beauty of the many colors
of Arctic sky, water, ice, and snow. Krykorka also illustrated “A
Promise Is a Promise,” a collaboration between Kusugak and Robert

Although the title suggests this is a Christmas tale, it can be enjoyed
in all seasons. It would be most appropriate for children aged five and


Kusugak, Michael Arvaarluk., “Baseball Bats for Christmas,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,