A celebration of Christmas in the March family has been adapted as the text for this oversized picture book, with lavish illustrations of the family enjoying the holiday together.
The March sisters enjoy a happy Christmas morning, with special gifts for their sister Beth, who has been in poor health. Their celebration becomes more joyful yet with the surprise arrival of Mr. March, who has been injured in the Civil War. The illustrations are dark and moody, reflecting the somber nature of a household with a father away at war and the realities of 19th-century illumination. There are continuity issues in both text and illustrations. Jo’s age does not seem consistent throughout the book, with one close-up view showing a girl who looks about 12 and others with her looking older. Beth is referred to as the youngest daughter, rather than the second youngest, and she is shown with blonde ringlets instead of Amy, as in the original. It is too bad there is no author’s note giving more specifics about Louisa May Alcott, the original story, the time frame of the Civil War and the New England location. It’s hard to identify the intended audience for this effort, as those who love the original already will likely be unhappy, and those who don’t will lack the context necessary to enjoy it.
A well-intentioned but misguided effort. (Picture book. 6-8)