Mia makes a Christmas card to send to her faraway grandfather, although she’s afraid it won’t reach him in time.
At the Christmas market with her mother, she finds a mysterious mailbox emblazoned with the words “The Reindeer Express” and “Turn knob three times to send parcel.” Mia steps through a door to a marvelously decorated room, where a cheerful woman directs her through another door. Mia finds herself in a magical, snowy forest. A reindeer whisks her away over a moonlit harbor, past a wondrous, sparkly city, and finally to Grandpa’s home in the mountains. Rare for picture books, Grandpa is on the youngish side, with the same red hair and white skin as Mia and her mother; Mia’s glasses are another welcome feature. Stepping back through the mailbox, she finds herself back in the market and that no time has elapsed. She and her mother return home to celebrate a joyful Christmas. Die-cut pages and lift-the-flap doors—some pleasingly challenging to find—creatively provide a sense of magic throughout. The book’s delightful, quiltlike design and geometric shapes allow readers’ eyes to move easily across the pages to spot hidden doors and windows. Fir trees and onion-domed buildings decorate the northern scenes, and endpapers include maps with an arctic feel.
Mia recognizes that she’s been given a special treat that doesn’t come to all children whose loved ones live far away, which makes this title especially resonant for readers in her circumstance. (Picture book. 4-7)