The Christmas Peg by Cameron Williams
Published by Penguin Viking
The Christmas Peg is the tale of a boy called Wal and how Christmas went terribly wrong for him over and over again.
In the first year of the story Wal tried to be good, but didn’t succeed. Even so, on Christmas morning he was so excited that he got the hiccups when he ran downstairs to see what Santa had left him. Unfortunately, all Wal found in his Santa sack was a puzzling thing…a small wooden peg.
It seems Wal’s name hadn’t made it to Santa’s Nice List that year. Instead, he was among the children who’d been listed for no gifts: the children on the Naughty List. Santa had given Wal’s much-wanted toy helicopter to someone else.
Next year Wal tried again to be good, but it didn’t last and his name ended up on the Naughty list once more. His cricket bat went to another child and in his Christmas sack Wal found something even worse than a peg…a picture of one.
Understandably, the following year Wal stopped trying to be good. This resulted, yet again, in a flat sack under the Christmas tree. Even worse than a peg or a picture of a peg, Wal had been given nothing. All he had was the memory of a peg, so he cried and cried.
Everything reminded Wal of that peg, until he decided to make a big effort to be nice. Soon, he discovered being good could be fun.
That Christmas, Wal’s sack was filled to the brim with wonderful gifts. He was so happy, he got the hiccups again.
This hardback picture book is full of funny illustrations and in contrasting ‘naughty’ Wal with his ‘nice’ sister, who receives gifts each Christmas, it certainly reinforces that only good behavior brings rewards.
However, I have some concern that it also focuses on fairly tough and long-lasting punishment for bad behavior: for Wal, several Christmases without gifts. While its intention is light-hearted, the storyline may worry very young readers.
The concept of the peg is unique, but could require adult explanation as to how the peg relates to the hiccups.
Rather than for very young readers, this book is probably more suitable for mid-primary-age children who should take its message in the spirit intended.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Cameron Williams
Illustrator: Mathew Martin
Title: The Christmas Peg
Publisher: Penguin Viking Australia
Published: October 2015