An engaging, charmingly illustrated holiday story.

THE CANDY TREE

OF MUTTENZ

A girl discovers a magical candy Christmas tree in this picture book.

In the Swiss village of Muttenz, Francyli adores sweet treats. For example, when she ice-skates, she imagines the rink is made of sugar and that her skates are “chocolate with caramel stops.” One winter night, the girl sits under the Christmas tree in the town square. Envisioning that the tree is decorated with candy, she is approached by a squirrel named Sugar. As she tells Sugar about her visions, the critter climbs to the top of the tree and shakes the branches, dispensing sugary snowflakes. Francyli is astonished as the Great Muttenz Christmas Tree becomes covered with “sugared fruits, candy necklaces, chocolates, butterscotch and mints.” She realizes “the best gifts are for sharing” and hollers for her neighbors. As a crowd gathers, Francyli notices her lonely next-door neighbor Herr Schön is missing. She searches for the older man so that he can appreciate the tree, too. Everyone marvels at the magnificent spectacle and snacks on treats. The narrator explains that the candy tree returns every Christmas, enchanting the residents of Muttenz. Stoner’s story is delightful. Readers will enjoy the descriptive language (“Bonbons for baubles…gumdrops for lights…crystaled dreamy delights”). Galstyan’s vivid illustrations depict Francyli as a White girl with “dark brown curly” hair in a cozy, captivating village. The images emphasize wintertime details like Christmas decorations and whirling snowflakes. Pages are frequently adorned with colorful candies and gingerbread people.

An engaging, charmingly illustrated holiday story.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-954017-00-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Blue Dot Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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