Next book



An engaging, charmingly illustrated holiday story.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

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

Next book


Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Next book


From the How To Catch… series

This frenetic ode to fatherhood is predictable fare but may please series fans.

It’s time to look for the elusive Daddysaurus.

In this latest installment in the seemingly never-ending series about a group of diverse kids attempting to trap mythical creatures, the youngsters are now on the lookout for a big mauve dinosaur with an emblazoned D on his stomach and a superhero cape. The fast-moving Daddysaurus is always on the go; he will be difficult to catch. Armed with blueprints of possible ideas, the kids decide which traps to set. As in previous works, ones of the sticky variety seem popular. They cover barbells with fly paper (Daddysaurus like to exercise) and spread glue on the handle of a shovel (Daddysaurus also likes to garden). One clever trick involves tempting Daddysaurus with a drawing of a hole, taped to the wall, because he fixes everything that breaks. Daddysaurus is certainly engaged in the children’s lives, not a workaholic or absent, but he does fall into some standard tropes associated with fathers. The rhyming quatrains stumble at times but for the most part bounce along. Overall, though, text and art feel somewhat formulaic and likely will tempt only devotees of the series. The final page of the book (after Daddysaurus is caught with love) has a space for readers to write a note or draw a picture of their own Daddysaurus. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This frenetic ode to fatherhood is predictable fare but may please series fans. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-72826-618-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

Close Quickview