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A Clever Beatrice Christmas    by Margaret Willey & Heather M. Solomon Amazon.com order for
Clever Beatrice Christmas
by Margaret Willey
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Clever Beatrice lives in the far North of Quebec, where Christmas is coming! Beatrice and her mother pull a sled to the village store, to stock up on ingredients to make a special cake (Bche de Nol) for the holiday. Children who are skating call for Beatrice to join them - they have questions for her about Pre Nol (Santa Claus).

Ren questions 'how Pre Nol can bring presents to so many children in one night', and Antoinette asks if Beatrice has seen him. Answering, Beatrice mentions that she sometimes hears the bells ringing on Pre Nol's sleigh. When Rollo asks how she can be sure it's not a villager's sleigh bells, Beatrice promises to bring 'a bell from Pre Nol's very own sleigh' on Christmas Day. How will she manage it?

Together the children make the Bche de Nol. The next day, Beatrice and her mother cut a fir tree. She sleds with her new friends, and answers more questions about Pre Nol - leading to another promise (a button from his cape this time!) The children decorate the tree, arrange the Christmas crche, and feast with the rest of the townsfolk on Christmas Eve. There are more questions - and Beatrice promises a curl from Santa's beard.

After midnight mass, Beatrice stays awake to meet Pre Nol - who she decides is 'the cleverest of all'. And he certainly is in Margaret Willey's delightful story, rich in French Canadian Christmas tradition, and illustrated in lovely winter watercolors by Heather M. Solomon.

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