THE STABLE RAT

AND OTHER CHRISTMAS POEMS

The author of Dorp Dead (1965) and other distinctive short novels in the ’60s and ’70s flies into radar range again with nine poems, all but the last sharing an “animals at the manger” theme. Their language is formal, their tone reverent and joyful: “Crows On A Certain Evening” break into “a choir of caws,” while a lowly rat, “a fill of skin so small among their legs,” is spurned by the other livestock but transformed at a touch from the newborn baby. A puzzled sheep goes along with the flock, hoping for answers; wild animals, Wise Men, and even the wind join in praise. In the matching art, Lobel (The Black Bull of Norroway, p. 410, etc.) is at her most radiant and spiritual, depicting gently smiling creatures, people, and an occasional angel clustering around the manger or frolicking in flower-strewn landscapes. In her final scene, paired to a mystical rhyme (“Be my flower, / Be my star. / Lend me a breath / Of what you are . . . ”), a comet and a great rose hover over a child dancing among flowers. Lyrical, deeply felt work from author and artist both. (Picture book/poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-17799-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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