Books by Christa Unzner

THE GIFTS by Regina Fackelmayer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A little girl named Mia reaches out to help others on Christmas Eve in this quietly appealing tale originally published in Switzerland. Mia loses her little Christmas tree when she helps an elderly gentleman who has fallen in the snow, and she gives away her new hat to a little boy who has lost his own. Later that night the old gentleman and the little boy arrive at Mia's house to deliver her tree, now beautifully decorated with ornaments and candles. It's never spelled out that the man is Santa, but children will note the clues in his muted-red clothing and pack of toys and draw their own conclusions. Unzner's ethereal illustrations use a softly shaded palette with snowy backgrounds in pale gray, complimenting Mia's fairylike quality in both her appearance and her solitary lifestyle. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
WEEKEND WITH GRANDMOTHER by Wolfram Hänel
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2001

Grandmother's enthusiasm is contagious in this story designed to inspire the early reader to enjoy the simple things in life. Tony hasn't seen his grandmother in four years. Grandmother, having grown tired of waiting for Tony's busy parents to bring him to her, has decided to take him away for a fun weekend. She zooms up in a snazzy convertible and whisks him away to taste all those things to which he is unaccustomed. They take their time on back roads, eat a leisurely picnic lunch, talk, stay in a quiet village for the night, star gaze, and build sandcastles at the beach. The point gets slightly diluted when grandmother and grandson get huffy at a restaurant where they receive inadequate service due to their clothing. Upon returning home from the whirlwind weekend, Tony's parents have somehow been mysteriously moved by Grandmother's ways and have taken time out to do a puzzle. If Hänel's (Little Elephant Runs Away, not reviewed, etc.) point is that it's good to be slightly eccentric and slowing down can lead to wisdom, we get it, but it all seems a little too much when, at tale's end, Grandma helps an old man cross a busy street. Not a bad effort for a brief adventure away from everyday life, and the essence is positive. Unzner's (The Clown Who Said, No, not reviewed, etc.) watercolors-over-ink sketches adorn every page and bring warmth and dimension to the story. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
MEREDITH, THE WITCH WHO WASN'T by Dorothea Lachner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Meredith is a witch, but she avoids the usual witchy trappings and doesn't really like magic, so her spells suffer. When the head witch, Melusina Firebird, decertifies Meredith, the hapless witch knows she ought to be sad, but she's notshe's too busy with all of the things she can do with her time now that she doesn't have to study spells. ``The only magic she used was a kiss on her thumb when she accidentally hit it with the hammer.'' When Melusina drops in for a visit, tasting the cake Meredith made from scratch and relaxing in the handmade tree house, she is so impressed she recertifies a protesting Meredith. `` `Spells, bells,' Melusina Firebird scoffed. `Your magic is more powerful than mere enchantments.' '' It's a point delivered with a light touch, ably crafted and colored in Unzner's exuberant paintings. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE SPY IN THE ATTIC by Ursel Scheffler
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1997

The Spy In The Attic (64 pp.; $13.95; PLB $13.88; Apr. 1, 1997; 1-55858-727-6; PLB 1-55858-728-4): When Mr. Leon, a new upstairs neighbor, receives some deliveries late at night that appear to be a coffin and a cannon, Martin is suspicious. He meets Mr. Leon and finds out that he wears a wig, sunglasses, and gloves, and becomes certain that their apartment building is harboring a spy. Then Mr. Leon asks Martin to walk his dog, providing the perfect opportunity for some spying of his own. Despite a too-neat ending—all mysterious behavior is explained away—the story is entertaining and well-written, a step above the usual easy reading fare. Unzner provides endearing color illustrations on every page of this amiable book. (Fiction. 7-9) Read full book review >