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by Alastair Heim ; illustrated by Sara Not

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-328-80959-9
Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

How can you obey a rule when there’s a mystery to solve?

It’s Christmas Eve, and there is one very important rule that must be followed: You can’t peek at your presents until Mommy and Daddy are up and about. Three siblings get ready for a cozy night, but two of them hear a loud squeak coming from downstairs. When they go to investigate, the other one, the book’s narrator, suspects them of ulterior motives. To stop them from repeating the trick, the narrator makes a bed on an armchair at the base of the stairs. No matter how many times the two kids get sent back upstairs, the squeaking keeps happening. Finally, the narrator can’t deny the incessant sounds coming from below the Christmas tree. The children all discover what was making the noise just as their parents appear. This quick and simple tale, told mostly through dialogue among the kids, plays on sibling dynamics. The very straightforward premise provides little in the way of nuance and inventiveness, but younger readers may find it somewhat amusing. The lighthearted, cartoon style of the illustrations makes for some fun moments, especially through the sound-effect balloons. The narrator is light-skinned with reddish-orange hair, the other siblings are brown-skinned and dark-haired, one of the parents is light-skinned and blond, and the other parent is dark-haired and brown-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Once the surprise is revealed, there’s not much excitement left.

(Picture book. 3-6)