KidLit for Christmas: The Legend of Peli Claus: Savior of Christmas
For those readers who are looking for a complement to their copies of “A Cajun Night Before Christmas,” author Nolan “Joey” Pellerin’s latest effort, The Legend of Peli Claus: Savior of Christmas, will fill the bill. Set in the bayous and swamps of southern Louisiana, the book tells the tale of a pelican (the Louisiana state bird) who helps Santa deliver a very merry Christmas.
A hurricane hit South Louisiana, cutting it off from the rest of the world, seven weeks before Christmas (hurricane season lasts through November). Trees were knocked down, roads were blocked, telephone lines were down, and electricity was off. Santa was concerned, and did a flyover several weeks before Christmas only to find that there were few landing places because of the flooding. When he found a spot to land, there was a “sad brown pelican stumbling around and crying.” Thus begins this story of a long-ago time when a legend was born.
Cleverly illustrated by Stefan Jolet, The Legend of Peli Claus weaves together themes of being useful, giving, and caring against a background of despair and lost hope. Without churning up all the details of the results of a Louisiana hurricane, Pellerin allows the reader a glimpse into the feelings of those affected—especially at holiday time. In the end he brings in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as examples of other Christmases Peli Claus saved.
The Legend of Peli Claus is a Christmas story that is timely (whether the most recent natural disaster is a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, or volcano), yet entertaining for younger children. Focusing on an area of Louisiana other than New Orleans distinguishes it and gives it depth (and a bit of a Cajun accent). Who would have thought that the newest Christmas hero would be a skinny, brown pelican?