Beautiful illustrations are the highlight of this otherwise unremarkable collection of 19 Christmas-themed â€œpoems.”
Repeated lines and stanzas make it clear that these are actually the lyrics of Christmas songs: â€œLet’s have a jolly good Christmas, / Let’s have a jolly good time. / For Christmas comes but once a year, / It’s something that we all hold dear. / So let’s have a jolly good, / Jolly ’olly, ’olly, good, / Let’s have a grand old time.” Unfortunately, Pickell does not include the music that would make them sing-able, thereby limiting his potential audience. In addition, with few exceptions, there is little originality or imagination in his core ideas: â€œChristmas is a comin’, oh yes! / Angels a hummin’, oh yes! / All the world will be brighter, / And our hearts a little lighter, / ’Cause Christmas is a comin’ soon.” The standouts in the collection include â€œSanta Claus,” â€œChristmas Morn,” and â€œO’ Dove of Peace,” while young readers’ imaginations may be captured by such as â€œSanta’s Workshop” and â€œThe Christmas Rag.” In contrast, Pickell’s illustrations, done in a wide range of styles, are delightful. Some feature black outlines and rich, vibrant colors, giving readers the impression of stained-glass artwork. Others lend an old-fashioned look and feel, with candles on the Christmas tree and old-time clothing. Still more capitalize on the message of peace found throughout the text and highlight the multiethnic character of our culture. Wherever people are depicted, they are tenderly rendered with much detail and personality, radiating warmth and love toward one another.
While the artwork is lovely and almost anyone who celebrates Christmas can find something resonating within the text, the omission of the music to accompany the songs is a true flaw.