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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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.


A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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