The Reindeer Chronicles: The Green Scarf
by Michael McWade Trafford Publishing
reviewed by Carol Davala

"If you want to survive in this world, you must pay more attention to everything around you."

In the ever popular tradition of holiday songs, stories, and TV classics highlighting Santa and his illustrious team of reindeer, the focus has often been on the celebrated character, Rudolph. Though initially ostracized by his bulbous red nose, ultimately he proved to be the unique guiding light, as he joined other four-footed flyers in their travels across a foggy night sky to deliver a bounty of Christmas packages. For those curious about the other team members chosen to participate in the honorary Christmas Eve flight, Michael McWade offers a delightful tale about the lesser known bucks in the sleigh team and their adventurous efforts to gain entry into "Flight School." Apparently, "everyone knows that is where Santa gets the reindeer to pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve!"

This is a charming children's story that entertains with simple geographic elements and light banter among a group of competitive young reindeer. But when the actions of a little red fox named Scarlet delay one student's Flight School goals, there are valuable lessons to be learned. The admonition is about not taking what doesn't belong to you, along with takeaway teachings regarding friendship and believing in yourself. Accompanying illustrations by Ivan Earl Aguilar are simple and effective. From a toothy-grinned polar bear and menacing wolf, to the big lashed, soulful-eyed Vixen, the expressive details justly compliment the story. Through the sweet, burly Santa with a twinkle in his eye, readers witness acts of kindness, acknowledgement, and understanding.

Like visions of sparkling sugar plums or the perennial Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer seasonal favorite that features an elf who dreams of becoming a dentist, McWade's own Reindeer Chronicles retain an essence of holiday spirit. Entwined within the narrative is a quiet, yet heartfelt message about never losing faith. This is a worthy contemplation, anytime of year.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review


Summer Camp: Book II of The Reindeer Chronicles
by Michael McWade
Trafford Publishing
reviewed by Michael Radon

"'Dasher wants to play on the soccer team,' they heard someone say. By this time, a big crowd had gathered."

In this adaptation of the legend of Santa's reindeer, the octet are a group of young reindeer who have just received the call within the last year to help with the annual Christmas sleigh flight. This particular story finds them in their offseason, attending a summer camp that should be familiar to most children. The reindeer are split into equal groups of boys and girls, and each spends their days doing activities and their evenings around the campfire. The boy reindeer are up to mischief and sports, with tomboy Dasher wanting to be on the soccer team rather than in dance class. Meanwhile, Comet is sneaking out at night with a peculiar reindeer named Scooter, in blatant disregard to the camp's rules. With a big soccer match against the Moosehead Lodge approaching and the potential for danger in the deep dark woods, the reindeer are in for a coming-of-age event that will leave them changed forever.

Parents should be aware right away that despite the cartoony illustrations and the seemingly safe subject matter, this series of books is designed to open up some difficult dialogues with children in a safe and trusting environment. In this case, Comet's late night activities with Scooter turn out to involve drug usage, which puts her younger brother's safety at risk. That being said, it is incredibly brave of a story of this nature to broach such a topic and ultimately it could do a lot of good for those children and those parents ready to have these discussions. The issue is approached realistically in spite of the cartoon reindeer and doesn't mince words when dealing with the potential danger that comes with using illegal drugs. This book can prove to be a useful tool to instill important values in young children.