The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever
Fran Ashdown was the Head of the Children's Department, Capilano Branch, North Vancouver District Public Library.
While the Dauphinee children plot ways and means of obtaining a special and expensive Christmas present for their mother, mean, nasty Reginald Corkum tries equally hard to ensure that they don’t succeed. His malice stems from the occasion of Lorinda Dauphinee’s ninth birthday party, to which he was not invited. Lorinda knows exactly what she wants to buy for their mother; the problem is that the vase she knows would be the perfect gift costs $35, a sum she certainly doesn’t have. Her friend Duncan suggests that she try to earn the money and so sparks the hatching of a succession of money-making ideas. The lemonade-stand in Mrs. McDermid’s gift store proves a disastrous plan, and Lorinda’s babysitting job is a fiasco; but the car washes and the sale of hand-made hasty-notes finally bring the desired results. The Dauphinees rush to buy the vase only to discover that Reginald has cleverly upstaged them and purchased it for his own mother. All seems lost until Lorinda and James decide that the money they were going to spend on the vase would itself be the perfect present. The tale ends on an upbeat note, with Mrs. Dauphinee’s delight in her present and intimations of a possible reconciliation between Lorinda and Reginald.
Wilson has produced a very readable, pleasant, and often humorous story — the Dauphinee family is realistically portrayed and Mrs. McDermid is the perfect harried but kind shopkeeper. Although the tale is set in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, the reader isn’t really given much sense of locale. Characterization is fairly superficial but the plot is proficiently developed and readers in the middle elementary grades will likely enjoy the book.