Strum and Drum: A Merry Little Quest

Tundra. Oct. 2022. 56p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780735272392.
K-Gr 2–Strum strums his guitar and Drum drums her drum on their journey to the Great Star in the north. Marching along a path illuminated by flickering lights, they leap through a silver waterfall, feast on peppermints and a pickle, and attract followers, including a dancer, an angel, and a polar bear. A soldier with a toothy grin warns of a beast with green eyes, a creature whose sudden appearance curtails their trip. Colorful drawings that look like paper cutouts give way to richly textured black-and-white sketches, including one of a dreaded beast that turns out to be a cat! A young boy scolds his pet before gently placing the two ornaments, Strum and Drum, higher up on the Christmas tree. This plot twist will have readers eagerly flipping back pages to figure out what just happened: Who are these characters? Why is the waterfall silver? What is the source of flickering lights? Most questions are answered, but a small, muted illustration showcasing the entire Christmas tree misses an opportunity to fully wrap up. The book includes some traditional ornaments like a pickle that may be less familiar to children; there is no endnote explaining the symbolism.
VERDICT This clever Christmas tale uses two distinct drawing styles to shift perspective. The surprising ending will have readers returning for a second, or even third, look.

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