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by Alane Ferguson & illustrated by Tom Sully

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-689-80465-2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 From Ferguson (Poison, 1994, etc.), the story of Scotty and his mother, who are driving across the desert to their Christmas destination when their car breaks down. Jasper, a kindly and unrelentingly folksy motel owner and mechanic rescues them, but Scotty fears they will miss Christmas. Jasper's place has no decorations or holiday fixings. As the boy comes to appreciate Jasper's generosity, he constructs a Christmas ``tree'' from a tumbleweed and decorates it. The well-worn plot device of scraggly ``tree'' becoming beautiful gets a boost of originality by the desert setting, and the boy's disappointment and his later ingenuity seem real. However, the rough illustrations suffer from skewed perspectives that aren't part of the style of painting as much as they are just plain crooked. People fare badly; desert scenes are better. A nice touch at the end comes when another stranded couple appears on the horizon, walking beneath a bright star with their baby, a soft-pedaled reminder of the first Christmas. (Picture book. 4-7)