Annie’s Bright Idea

2 November 2011

Annie’s Bright Idea
by Audrhea Lande and Jenny Prest
Review by Karen Lawson
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
ISBN 978-1-894431-54-5 $14.95

Sometimes you do not have to look very hard to find the magic of Christmas. You can often find it between the pages of a simple story. You will definitely find it when you open a special children’s book called Annie’s Bright Idea.

Audrhea Lande and Jenny Prest have merged their writing and artistic talents and created a delightful Christmas tale. Annie’s Bright Idea is more than just another Christmas story. It is exactly what the subtitle states on the cover – “A Christmastime Adventure”.

Annie’s Bright Idea is set in Winnipeg, during the Depression. The Christmas season has arrived and nine year old Annie and her little sister Olga can’t wait to see Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. Annie and Olga decide on this particular Saturday to make the trek from their home on the outskirts of the city to the downtown where Santa awaits.

Santa resides at the iconic retail establishment that once proudly sat at the core of every downtown in every major city in Canada – Eaton’s. Eaton’s was known for its quality goods and excellent service. It also celebrated Christmas in grand style and created a winter wonderland for all the patrons that entered its doors. During the 1930s people could forget how tough times were and escape to Eaton’s to marvel at the beautiful decorations and displays of merchandise and dream of prosperity.

The girls set off on a cold morning in November and embark on their journey. It is a longer walk than they imagined and the way to get there is dangerous and scary. A friendly stranger appears at just the right moment and guides them to their destination after a frightening incident. Once they reach their destination and step inside the massive store, they are amazed and awestruck at the sounds, smells, and sights of this enchanting new world. They enjoy riding the escalators and elevators and gaze longingly at the tantalizing array of penny candy and fresh doughnuts. The girls realize that time is slipping away and they have forgotten what their original mission was – to see Santa. By the time they get to Toyland the store is about to close. Disappointed and afraid, they now have to face the long walk home in the dark. But once again, help arrives at just the right moment and they embark on another adventure that ultimately gets them home safe and sound but exhausted from their overwhelming day.

The authors have captured the true essence of this time and place. Expressions such as “easy peasy” “jeepers creepers” and “holy moley” reflect the jargon of this era and are sprinkled throughout the book in a whimsical way. The colourful illustrations merge seamlessly with reproductions of old photos and memorabilia. Young readers will immediately identify with the two likeable little girls, Annie and Olga and enjoy accompanying them on their quest to see Santa. Older readers will find themselves on a nostalgic journey of their own as this story will trigger memories of a simpler time when Christmas was indeed magical.


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