Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

I just can’t resist doing more Russell Hoban for Chistmas! Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is, I think, one of my favourite picture books and one of my favourite childhood memories. I remember watching the muppet version of the story over and over again, on one of the those large discs that were for around for awhile in the eighties that movies were played on. (I have a very distinct picture in my mind but have no idea what they were called.) Only later did I realize that Emmet Otter was a book and by Hoban, no less, when it sat there staring at me a in used book store. (That is where my copy if from.) I re-discovered what a lovely story it is.

Emmet and his mother don’t have much, but they have each other. Each wants to badly to get the other a Christmas present, so unknowingly  they both end up taking a chance and entering a talent show with a fifty dollar prize. I like that it reminds us that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be thankful for what we have and enjoy each other.

BKS 80 small

Emmet Otter’s father was dead, and his mother took in washing. There was no electricity out in Frogtown Hollow, and Mrs. Otter did her washing with a washboard and a washtub, all by hand. Emmet rowed up and down the river, from Turtle Bed to Osprey Point, picking up the laundry that Ma’s customers left on their boat landings, and he delivered it when it was done. Emmet hauled the water and he did the chores. He cut the firewood and he stacked it. He went out with the tool chest Pa had left him, and he did odd jobs around the neighborhood. Every day he went out fishing. So there was always something on the table, and between the two of them Emmet and his mother paid the rent and scraped along somehow.

This was the only Emmet I knew until a bunch of babies I know got the name. I can’t help thinking, “Emmet Otter”!  (Now I want to watch the Muppet Family Christmas.)

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