A snowstorm, a missing basket of fruit, a misunderstanding, and an act of kindness lead to a warm winter tradition.
Thomas, a light-brown furry creature (maybe a groundhog), tells his yellow-feathered friend Lucy that he must have misplaced the basket that contained the fruit he’d intended to bake into his winter cake. “How mysterious,” Lucy says when Thomas tells her about the basket. But Lucy must hurry to get home, as the snow has begun to fall thickly, and she flies off into the wind. She collides with a tree branch and is momentarily stunned, then takes shelter in a cozy tea room to recover. There, everyone is talking about the weather except for one dark brown–furred fellow (perhaps a pine marten) who mentions that he’s found a basket of fruit. Lucy leaps to conclusions and trails him as he departs, all the way to Thomas’ door, where he reunites Thomas and basket. Lucy is embarrassed by her suspicious thoughts. The simple story of her realization and her attempt to make amends is told in deliciously rich language so porous it opens up glorious possibilities for the illustrations: “there were obstacles.” Perkins’ art, with its warm yellows, opulent blues, and soft browns of wintry forest and cozy dens, nicely complements the fine narrative arc. This could simply be a splendid holiday tale: There is cake, after all, and there are both connection and community. But the different colorings of the animals’ coats combine with light-feathered Lucy’s false, if unspoken, accusation of innocent, dark-brown Tobin to offer an allegorical storyline for readers who care to pursue it.
Cozy—and potentially provocative. (Picture book. 4-8)