The lovely cover of this exquisite interpretation of the classic song draws readers in immediately with its soft pink background and delicate pear tree next to a cup of tea and a letter hinting at the delightful story inside.
On the first day of Christmas, readers see an old-fashioned city street with a postman delivering the pear tree to a surprised young lady at a house marked number four. There are other people on the street and in the windows of the other houses, but look closely at the house next door to number four. (There, in the window: the shy young man wearing glasses.) He is watching from his window as many of the ensuing gifts are delivered to the pretty young lady, each one bearing a tag “to my true love.” As the presents accumulate, the typical mayhem with geese, swans, cows and pipers ensues, coming to a touching conclusion on the final page, when the young man finally finds enough courage to knock on the door of number four, bearing a single rose for his true love. Ray’s luminous illustrations in watercolor, ink and collage mesmerize and feature a 1920s setting and a multiracial cast of characters in period costumes. Every two-page spread is a surprise in content and composition, and her skilled accommodation of all the birds, beasts and performers, as well as the two sweethearts, is remarkable.
A dazzling accomplishment. (Picture book. 3-7)