Sky and Koehler (No Heartbreaker, 2019, etc.) return to Santa Claus’ dog park with another Christmas tale of love and courage, starring a cute canine.
Carol, one of 100 dogs who lives at the North Pole’s dog park, loves to sing, but she’s afraid to do so in public. She sets off on a journey by train to find her courage, but the pup has no luck locating it. Then she sees a young girl performing at a Christmas Eve variety show who panics onstage. Carol races to the rescue, howling alongside the youngster to the tune of “Silent Night.” Carol then realizes she didn’t have to travel to find her courage—it was inside herself all along. As in the previous installment, Carol is given the option to return home with Santa or live with her new friend, where she fits in. The fact that Carol’s kindness brings her courage into existence offers a strong message for young readers, and Sky smoothly tells this story in cheerful rhyme. Koehler’s bright, cartoonish illustrations depict a diverse human crowd, and the girl’s family appears to be of mixed heritage. Carol’s eyelashes are perhaps a bit overstated, but the Christmas-y details in the illustrations’ margins add to the holiday appeal.
A strong holiday story about courage, caring, and finding one’s voice.