Hooper bases her touching tale on the Romanian Christmas Eve ritual of colindat, caroling to the music provided by villagers playing a variety of instruments, including a tiny drum called the duba. One year, Peter is called on to play the duba in place of his father, who is away working in a city factory. Can he do justice to this important job? Deftly depicting old-world costumes and customs, Paterson's buoyant watercolors capture the villagers' high spirits-and the joy of one child in particular. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
- Kathleen Karr
Peter lives in a small village in Romania where a special kind of caroling, accompanied by drums, is performed from house to house every Christmas Eve. Peter's father knows the songs and the traditions, but this year, Peter's father is away and Peter must learn them for himself. He practices faithfully with the old men, but will he be too frightened to play his drum on Christmas Eve? Peter's triumph is accompanied by rich drawings that portray villagers making sausage and sweet Christmas bread as well as evocative snowy village scenes.
Young Peter longs for his father to return by Christmas Eve to take part in the "colindat cu duba", a Romanian Christmas custom in which men go from house to house caroling to the beat of a special little drum. If father does not return in time, Peter must take his place singing and playing the drum. Rehearsing with the men of his village night after night, he becomes increasingly discouraged about his ability to play the "duba", but when the holy night arrives, he finds that he can play very well. At the end of the "colindat", Peter's father returns and proudly passes on his drum to his son. While the Christmas custom may be unfamiliar, children will recognize Peter's feelings of uncertainty, determination, and satisfaction. Watercolor illustrations bordered with holly sprigs give the pages a festive look. For larger collections.