Rhyming verse relates a sentimental tale about how everyone in a neighborhood learns to enjoy the quiet on a dark Christmas Eve after a power failure.
One neighborhood in Medford Town is known as Christmas Block because all the houses are completely covered in lights and Christmas decorations. But one Christmas, when the lights are switched on, a blackout begins on Christmas Block and then spreads around the world. A little girl from Christmas Block points out the newly bright stars, which are then appreciated by all. The people remember: “See, all it took on Christmas night / to guide three kings was one star’s light.” The following year the people on Christmas Block light only one candle as their sole decoration. The text is based on Paul’s song of the same name (available for download from the publisher’s website). While it may work with a guitar accompaniment on a stage, as a picture-book text, the rhyme is seriously flawed and not up to basic standards of poetry. The rhyme scheme changes midway through the story, many lines do not have consistent rhythm, and all too many terminal rhymes are either forced or not-quite-rhymes—or both. Illustrations in deep jewel tones with glowing Christmas lights use a double-page-spread format that gives Christmas Block a solid visual presence with the excitement of the holiday in the air, but they cannot compensate for the text’s inadequacies.
The illustrations try to illuminate the story, but the substandard verse makes the lights go out on this effort. (Picture book. 4-7)