An engaging, charmingly illustrated holiday story.



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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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