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by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright, Ying-Hwa Hu

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3577-4
Publisher: Dial

Many faith traditions and cultures advocate welcoming the stranger to the table of fellowship, and Grace learns this lesson firsthand when her family hosts a mother-daughter pair for Christmas.

Grace is a vibrant, naturally appealing girl who has previously starred in several picture books and a chapter book about different aspects of her life with Ma, Nana and her cat, Paw-Paw (Princess Grace, 2008, etc.). She loves acting and dress-up, and in this tale she acts out the Nativity story, pressing her family members into service in multiple roles. Grace is resentful when Anita and her daughter Savannah are invited to stay for Christmas, but the two girls quickly become friends through shared creative play and their mutual experience of being separated from their fathers at Christmas. Savannah’s aunt, a professional ballet dancer, joins the group for Christmas dinner and participates in another re-enactment of the Nativity story, followed by an impromptu ballet performance. Softly shaded watercolor illustrations capture the emotions and facial expressions of the characters and provide intriguing patterns and textures in clothing details and decorations. In a few places, the illustrations do not match specific descriptions in the text, which sharp-eyed young readers are sure to notice.

Grace learns some subtle lessons about sharing and being open to unexpected gifts, adding an additional layer of meaning to her name. (Picture book. 4-8)