Beautifully decorated for the Christmas gift giveaway, the Snow Island community hall buzzed with energy and trilled with cheerful voices. Throughout the room, ecstatic children played with presents just received — building blocks, storybooks, musical instruments, board games, and more. As for the adults, they happily chatted among themselves while watching their little ones.
Eight-year-old Orion was closely watching the action unfold as he waited his turn to receive a gift. That’s when he overheard a disturbing conversation between Santa’s helpers.
“There are only 32 gifts left,” the Star Fairy said to Peppy the Elf. “But according to the list, there are 33 children left who haven’t been called.”
“How is that possible?” Peppy exclaimed. “I checked everything myself yesterday. Three times!”
“We must have lost one this morning on the way over from the garage at city hall,” the Star Fairy deduced.
Orion couldn’t believe his ears.
“Did you hear that, Capella?” he asked his twin sister.
“Someone’s not getting a present,” the boy explained.
“Oh no,” Capella replied. “We have to do something!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, the siblings offered to retrace the route between the two buildings in search of the missing gift. With obvious relief, the fairy and elf accepted, but they urged the children to be quick.
Orion and Capella made a beeline for their parents. As they put on their hats and boots, they hurriedly explained the situation. Audrey and Patrick grabbed their coats and followed the kids out of the hall, ready to help on the important quest.
“Hurry up,” Capella urged as they headed outside. “We have to get back before Santa finishes handing out the last of the presents.”
“But if we go too fast, we might miss a clue,” Orion countered.
“You’re right, champ. We need to be quick but attentive,” Patrick said.
Halfway to the city hall garage, Orion raised a hand to signal his family to stop.
“That’s strange,” he said. “Do you hear that? It sounds like bells.”
“It’s coming from over there,” Capella exclaimed, immediately running toward the mysterious sound. “Look, there it is!”
The girl jumped up and down with excitement as her family ran to join her. “Don’t you see it?”
Hanging by its ribbon from a tree branch, the missing gift jingled as it swung gently in the breeze.
“You two make excellent detectives,” Audrey said with a smile as she reached up to retrieve the package. “Now, let’s hurry back before it’s too late.”
When the family returned to the community hall, they were out of breath but proud to have accomplished their mission. The twins bundled the present in one of their coats so they could discreetly return it to the pile of gifts — there were only three left!
“Phew! Just in time,” Peppy murmured.
“You saved the day,” the Star Fairy exclaimed.
Once all the gifts were handed out, the children of Snow Island prepared to head home — including one little boy who didn’t know that his new tambourine had almost been a gift for the squirrels instead of him.
Smiling from ear to ear, Orion and Capella wished everyone a happy holiday before rejoining their parents.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
Kids Corner: Association game – “When I grow up, I want to be a…”
What do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter, mechanic, doctor, teacher, secretary, or accountant? Answer these fun questions to find some inspiration.
1. Match each tool or instrument to the right job
A. Weather balloon
D. Hay fork
E. Dental drill
G. Tracing paper
I. Pruning shears
J. Mortar trowel
i. Pastry chef
2. Match each job to the correct workplace
A. Financial adviser
D. Speech-language pathologist
E. Sound technician
F. Foodservice attendant
G. Trapeze artist
b. Construction site
g. Film set
3. Match the following people to the industry they work in
A. Lawyers and notaries
B. Sales consultants and online purchasing clerks
C. Unbleached pulp washers and recycled paper handlers
D. Oncologists and ophthalmologists
E. Logistics dispatchers and vehicle drivers
b. Pulp and paper
d. Legal services
1. A-g, B-b, C-i, D-a, E-d, F-h, G-j, H-c, I-e, J-f.
2. A-a, B-b, C-f, D-d, E-g, F-e, G-c.
3. A-d, B-a, C-b, D-c, E-e.
Kids Corner: Fun things to do with your brothers and sisters
Do you ever get bored? If so, here are a few activities that may interest you. Pick one to do with your brothers and sisters so you can all have fun together.
Create wacky characters
Draw the head and upper body of a character such as a person, animal, or monster. Then, fold the paper in half to hide your drawing and pass it to the next person. They must draw the lower part of the body without looking at what you drew. The results are sure to make you laugh.
Start a story circle
If you and your siblings can read, take turns sharing sentences or entire pages from a book you all enjoy. You could also pick one person to read the entire thing out loud.
Put on a show
Host a performance for your parents. Depending on your talents, you could:
• Sing a song or two
• Create a dance
• Put on a puppet show
• Recite nursery rhymes or poems
• Play a musical instrument
• Tell jokes
Make sure to rehearse what you’re going to do.
Make up a story
Choose five or more words at random. Then, make up a story that includes all the words you chose. If you want, you could challenge yourself to create a story that’s scary or funny.
Make price tags and attach them to your stuffed animals, puzzles, and toy cars. Place these items on a table to mimic a store shelf. Then, decide who will play the customers and who will play the cashier. Make sure you get out all the props you need to play your parts. This might include play money, a change purse, reusable bags, and a calculator.
To come up with more fun games for you and your siblings to play, use your imagination or ask an adult to help you look for ideas online.
1. Draw a picture of your brother or sister
2. Play cards or a board game
3. Solve a puzzle together
4. Build a fort with sheets and clothespins
5. Build the tallest tower of blocks you can
6. Play charades
7. Play 20 questions
8. Hide objects around the house to create a scavenger hunt
9. Write a letter to a family member
Bread in a bag: An edible at-home science experiment
If you’re looking for a fun, educational, kid-friendly activity to absorb the kids on a dreary winter afternoon, bread might be the answer. With just a few inexpensive ingredients, kids can learn about the science of baking and pick up a little extra confidence with their newfound bread-baking skills.
You will need 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 package of rapid rise yeast, 1 cup of warm water, 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and a gallon-sized zippered food storage bag.
1. Combine one cup flour with the sugar and yeast in the bag, then add the warm water. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.
2. Squish the bag with your hands until everything is mixed together.
3. Let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. Bubbles will form as the yeast activates.
4. Open the bag and add another cup of flour, oil, and salt.
5. Seal bag again and squish to combine.
6. Add the last cup of flour, seal again and squish some more, until everything is blended.
7. Remove the dough from the bag and place it on a lightly floured surface.
8. Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth. This step develops gluten, the latticework of protein that makes bread chewy and fluffy.
9. Place the dough in a greased loaf pan or divide it in half and use two greased mini loaf pans.
10. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
11. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Kid’s Corner: How to use a diary
Do you have a diary, journal, or empty notebook? Are you unsure what to do with it? If so, the first rule is there are no rules!
In fact, you can use your diary however you like. If you enjoy writing, you can:
• Makeup stories
• Write about how you feel or what you did
• Make a list of things you want to do
• Share your dreams
• Write about things you don’t understand
If you prefer arts and crafts or aren’t good at writing, you can draw or make collages.
Moreover, you can use markers, stickers, washi tape, ribbons, and pictures to decorate your diary. In short, remember that your journal is yours. The most important thing is that you enjoy using it.
Snow Island: The Christmas lantern walk
On one particular night in December, Orion and Capella were allowed to stay up late. This was because they were taking part in Snow Island’s first-ever lantern walk. Trailing behind their parents, they followed other hikers through the woods along the Star Trail. Soon, the group would arrive at the observatory where they would be able to admire the night sky and, if they were lucky, catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
Illuminated by the glow of their lanterns, the twins happily joined in as the crowd sang Christmas carols. The mood was merry, and it was a perfect night for a stroll.
Suddenly, someone cried out in pain.
“Mrs. Isla twisted her ankle,” a man called out.
Several people turned back to help the mayor, who’d been keeping stragglers company at the back of the group. Orion, Capella, and their parents quickly followed. While the mayor apologized profusely for having ruined the hike, the adults discussed what to do. Some thought that one person should wait with her until help arrived, while others offered to help her hobble the rest of the way to the observatory since it wasn’t far.
Just then, Orion had an idea: “Hey, why don’t we make her a stretcher?”
“Yes, we learned how to make one this summer at the Little Explorers’ Day Camp,” his sister added.
“It won’t be easy to do by lantern light, but I think we can make it work,” one woman responded cheerfully.
Excited to put their knowledge to the test — and to help Mayor Isla — the twins began explaining what to do. For many, the activity brought back memories of their own childhood out¬door survival lessons, and a sturdy stretcher was built in no time.
A few people carefully helped Mayor Isla onto the stretcher, and the stron¬gest members of the group carried her up to the observatory while others lit the way. Soon, they joined the rest of the crowd who’d gathered around the observatory and extinguished their lanterns.
Capella was disappointed not to see any northern lights, but then her brother pointed to the sky and cried out with excitement: “Look, you can see Orion from here!”
“You’re right,” she replied, gazing up at the constellation her twin was named after. “Help me find my star!”
“Your star?” asked the mayor, who’d been positioned on the ground nearby.
“Yes, Capella is the brightest star in the Auriga constellation,” the girl explained.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” the mayor replied. “Your parents must really like stars if they named you after one.”
“It’s because they met here,” Orion said. “Dad took his class on a field trip to the observatory, and Mom was their guide.”
“How romantic,” Mayor Isla exclaimed, following the girl’s finger as she pointed up at the star that was her namesake.
After gazing at the stars and sipping hot chocolate, the hikers prepared to make their descent.
Suddenly, the sky lit up with flashes of fluorescent green. “Oohs!” and “Aahs!” resounded through the crowd as all stood mesmerized by the marvel.
There was little doubt that the first edition of the lantern walk had been a great success, especially for Capella and others who got their first look at the northern lights.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
Snow Island: The Christmas ball
It was Snow Island’s 250th anniversary, and in celebration of the occasion, the city had decided to revive an old tradition. A Christmas ball would be held at the Winter Solstice Hotel, a unique and prestigious heritage building. Unlike the balls of old, however, kids would be invited. Better yet, to ensure the parents could enjoy the festivities for as long as they wanted, a few volunteers had organized a sleepover for the kids in the adjoining room.
Capella was so excited she could hardly sit still during dinner, which went on a little too long for her liking. As for Orion, he was quietly relishing the last few bites of his meal, eager to find out what was in store for dessert.
Just then, the waiters carried out a huge chocolate fountain and trays piled high with an assortment of fresh fruit, along with a stack of aprons for anyone worried about spilling on their fancy attire.
“Wonderful!” the twins exclaimed in unison.
As the guests finished eating, Mayor Isla thanked the event’s organizers and introduced the band that would soon kick off the next portion of the evening.
More than ready to get on the dance floor, Capella leaped to her feet. However, as the waiters continued to clear the tables, only a few of the musicians made their way to the stage, clearly taking their time.
“What do you think the others are doing?” Orion asked.
“I don’t know, but we’re going to find out,” his sister replied.
Without another thought, the twins stealthily snuck backstage into the dressing room where they found the rest of the orchestra looking distraught. Orion questioned one of the violinists and quickly learned that Naomi, the singer, would be making her first appearance in front of a large audience. She had stage fright and had locked herself in the bathroom.
“We’ll go talk to her,” Orion said.
“Good luck,” a saxophonist replied. “If she’s not out here in two minutes, we’re going on without her.”
Despite their words of encouragement, the singer refused to come out of the bathroom. Suddenly, Capella had a brilliant idea.
“We could sing with you to break the ice,” she suggested. “We’ve been rehearsing Jingle Bells at school, and several of our classmates are here.”
“Um… sure, I guess,” the young woman stammered. “So long as I’m not alone, I think I’ll be alright.”
Relieved, Orion and Capella hurried back to the ballroom and assembled a group of their friends while the orchestra finished taking their places. When it was their turn, the kids made their way on stage, standing on either side of the singer. Together, they delivered a performance that brought everyone in the crowd to their feet — and gave Naomi the encouragement she needed.
“Thank you so much,” she whispered to the twins before they headed off stage. “Now I know I can do it.”
The singing and dancing went on for hours, much to everyone’s delight. When the orchestra finally paused for a break, it was time for the youngest partygoers to head off to bed.
Although they were disappointed the night was coming to an end, Orion and Capella had thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I hope there’s a ball again next year,” Capella said, as she curled up in her sleeping bag.
“Mmm, me too,” her brother mumbled, already half asleep.
The next day, the Snow Island Gazette reported that the ball had been a huge hit. They praised Naomi’s talent and described her as “an incredible up-and-comer.” After such a successful event, there was no doubt that the Christmas ball would once again become a beloved tradition on Snow Island.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague