Perhaps this very brief, very explicit allegory of the love between Gilly and his grandmother is Julia Cunningham's answer to critics of Derp Dead: it's no more than a tender Christmas greeting otherwise. Left alone on Christmas Eve by Grandmother's departure to work in a sick household. Gilly finds a red onion with a note identifying it as his gift. "Why had she left this nonsensical vegetable....He reminded himself that his grandmother was a person of many meanings." Perplexed, annoyed, obsessed by the onion, he wanders aimlessly in the woods, finding a tumbled bird that flies away at the first opportunity, a badger that seizes his sandwich and disappears, a trapped hare that leaps off as soon as he frees it, a pair of emerald eyes that seem to menace him. Fortuitously taking the onion and a pine branch as his talismans, he feels his foreboding turn to empathy and sees each incident differently. "And, last, he looked at the onion....It was like love, layer upon layer of unending mystery...." With the addition of the onion, the pine branch becomes a tree; added to the branch, the onion becomes a star. The combination of overt moralizing, overextended symbolism and wispy texture is likely to draw a blank from most children though adults may well find it charming.