Though the story is long and of another era, Henry’s touching account of young love at Christmas has an enduring appeal.

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THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

The sentimental short story is presented in an elegant edition with moody illustrations reminiscent of antique sepia photographs.

The story, first published as a book in 1906, is rather flowery and wordy, with old-fashioned constructions such as “the silent imputation of parsimony.” The plot revolves around a young couple, Della and Jim, who live a Spartan life in their tiny flat. Each wants to buy a special Christmas gift for the other, but there is only a little money for presents. Della sells her beautiful, knee-length hair to buy a watch chain for Jim’s prized pocket watch, but at the same time, Jim sells his watch to buy a set of hair combs for Della. They realize that their love for each other is their real gift that they must treasure. The oversized, full-page illustrations are in muted shades of browns and grays, with the only touch of color in Della’s muted, rose-colored blouse and complementary roses in the Art Nouveau style decorating each page of text. Each rose is larger than the one preceding, and the stylized flowers are repeated in elegant endpapers printed with twining roses and vines.

Though the story is long and of another era, Henry’s touching account of young love at Christmas has an enduring appeal. (Picture book. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-988-8240-57-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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A sweet story about letting go and allowing life to lead the way.

THE 12 DARES OF CHRISTA

To say Christa Vasile loves Christmas is an understatement.

She always sets the Best Christmas Plan Ever into motion on Nov. 1, with the goal of outdoing the previous year’s celebration. This year’s excellence has already surpassed the others, as Christa and her parents will be going to Europe. But then her parents drop the bad news: they’re getting a divorce, and the “coppery”-skinned 13-year-old with “crazy-thick hair” and “eyes that crinkle up in the corners” (but no named race) and her similar-looking mother will go to Europe for some “mother-daughter time.” Christa’s actress mother will perform in venues throughout their trip, which means Christa has to join the “kid portion of [the] tour” with the other actors’ children: hyperexuberant Kylie, artist Sasha, Harry Potter superfan Owen, spiky-haired Logan, and cute hipster Colby. (Sasha is Asian; the rest appear to be white.) After Christa spies her mother making out with Kylie’s father, her hopes for a parental reunion go out like a candle in the wind. However, a surprise from her father lifts Christa’s spirits. He’s continuing their holiday scavenger hunt tradition with one dare for each of the 12 days of Christmas. The tasks encourage Christa to allow the unexpected to lead her to new and exciting places. Her first-person present-tense narration carries the story, and Burt does an excellent job of bringing the magic of Europe to life on the page.

A sweet story about letting go and allowing life to lead the way. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241618-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Plot, schmot. Readers may be so charmed by Joel that they forgive the book’s flaws and wish him a miracle. (Historical...

DREIDELS ON THE BRAIN

Joel is hoping for a miracle. Actually, the white Jewish boy is hoping for several.

He wishes his family could pay its bills rather than buying time by “accidentally” sending the telephone check to the water company. He wishes his father’s hands weren’t so gnarled by arthritis that it’s a struggle to pick up small objects. And he wishes no one knew his last name (which is too embarrassing to repeat here). Joel and his family are practically the only Jews in town, which makes him very nervous about the “Winter Holiday Assembly,” where they’re supposed to light the menorah in front of everyone. He suspects that—barring a miracle—the event will lead to further humiliation. (The events, sadly, are based on the author’s childhood in the 1970s.) Ben Izzy rarely mentions the race of the characters, though inferences can be made from their names. (Joel’s crush is named Amy O’Shea.) But the other characters are barely present. For chapters at a time, the only character is Joel, telling readers lengthy stories and shaggy dog jokes. He’s so entertaining that some people won’t notice when the plot stalls for pages on end, as plot is not the book’s strength. When the assembly turns into a train wreck, the scene is so over-the-top it hardly makes sense.

Plot, schmot. Readers may be so charmed by Joel that they forgive the book’s flaws and wish him a miracle. (Historical fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4097-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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