NICKOMMOH!

A THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION

Koller (Bouncing on the Bed, p. 143, etc.) portrays a Narragansett nickommoh, or celebratory gathering, from which it is very likely the tradition of Thanksgiving was drawn. As explained in an exemplary note—brief, clear, interesting—at the end of the book, these gatherings occurred 13 times a year, once each lunar month. The harvest gathering is one of the larger gatherings: a great lodge was built, copious food was prepared, and music and dance extended deep into the night. Koller laces the text with a good selection of Narragansett words, found in the glossary (although there is no key to pronunciation, even for words such as Taqountikeeswush and Puttuckquapuonck). The text is written as a chanted prose poem, with much repetition, which can be both incantatory and hackneyed, as when “frost lies thick on the fields at dawn, and the winged ones pass overhead in great numbers.” Mostly the phrases are stirring—as are Sewall’s scratchboard evocations—and often inspirational—for this nickommoh puts to shame what has become known as the day before the launch of the holiday shopping season. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81094-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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AN ELF FOR CHRISTMAS

The text in Garland’s book has little merit, and appears mostly as an excuse for the digital artwork. The night before Christmas, Tingle, a diligent elf in Santa’s workshop, falls asleep in the cockpit of a toy plane he has been working on. When the plane is wrapped, so is he, and the package is tucked into Santa’s sleigh and delivered to Joey for Christmas. Tingle gets homesick, flies the plane homeward, runs out of power, and hitches a ride with a polar bear. Garland makes no effort to endow his principals with any personality or presence; the artwork suffers from a grating juxtaposition of hyperrealism and smoky, blurred imagery. The proportions and depths of field are discomfittingly exaggerated, except for a scene in which the northern lights are on display above Santa’s workshop—there the otherworldliness perfectly matches the event. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-46212-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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