In Crighton’s (The Christmas Spryte Encounter: Picture with Santa, 2018, etc.) latest picture book, an elf gives a boy a second chance to be kind to his younger sibling—and believe in Christmas magic.
The unnamed narrator, a brown-haired, brown-skinned 9-year-old, is crushed when his friends say that Santa isn’t real. In his frustration, he feels like being mean and telling his much younger brother what he heard; then something—a bug?—zooms into his ear, and a small voice scolds him for almost ruining his brother’s Christmas. The “bug” is actually a flame-decaled ATV on skis with a tiny, helmeted driver: Abe, a pink-haired, female “spryte.” Her message—“When YOU’RE good to others, you feel good yourself”—is an excellent one. Her pep talk inspires the narrator to be a good brother and restores his belief in Santa. All the fuss over Abe’s gender seems unnecessary, but the core message about making choices to be kind rings true. The cartoonish illustrations don’t always match the text; Abe shows a business card that reads “Abigale ‘Abe’ J. Vroom,” but the narrator is later surprised that she’s female—and isn’t her middle initial supposed to be “T.”? However, the bright colors and cool ATV will appeal to kids.
A book with solid rhymes and appropriately challenging vocabulary for elementary school readers.