The Steadfast Soldier
Enchanted Lion Books / Publishers Group Canada
By Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by JooHee Yoon
Synopsis from Publishers Group Canada:
“There were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers. They were all brothers, born of the same old tin spoon. . . . All looked exactly alike except one. He looked a little different as he had been cast last of all. The tin was short, so he had only one leg. . . . But just you see, he’ll be the remarkable one.” So begins Andersen’s classic tale of good and evil; purity and personality; fate and grace. In this boldly-illustrated contemporary retelling, Yoon takes on the harshness and poignancy of the story, leaving readers with the sense that nothing is ever lost-it just changes shape and continues anew.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier may not be a traditional holiday story but the tin soldiers being a gift lends itself nicely to the gift giving season. The idea that toys have lives outside of the play our children initiate or enact, will appeal to kids. This is something they probably feel their toys already do. The tin soldier actually goes on a bit of an adventure when he mistakenly falls out of the house window, including being a captain of a paper ship, confronting rats in the sewer, and getting swallowed by a fish. And yet fate still finds him returning home from where he was originally lost.
Now The Steadfast Tin Soldier I wouldn’t classify as a happily ever after story, though I guess it depends on your perspective. Of course the tin soldier may not be happy with his final outcome but he does get to spend the time with his love, a paper ballerina. A somewhat sad ending isn’t a bad thing for kids. We can sometimes get caught up in only sharing uplifting, happy stories. But as we know life is a mix of ups and downs, just like the tin soldier in this story. We can dwell on the negative or we can focus on the positive. I love the use of red, black and silver, also lending to the festive feel. And the woodcut-like images gives the story a vintage feel.
You can get an inside peek to this book in the following video review, published on our Youtube channel every Wednesday:
If you’re looking for other holiday book ideas, take a look at our forth annual 24 Days of Holiday Christmas Book Countdown.