THE LIGHT OF CHRISTMAS

Evans (The Tower, not reviewed, etc.) adds to his successful string of sentimental Christmas stories with this longer one of a young boy named Alexander whose kindness to a stranger results in a special honor. The setting is the mythical walled village of Noel, which has a tradition of a huge brass torch that burns each Christmas next to the decorated town tree. This year an additional holiday feature has been announced, with a contest of Christmas gift offerings to determine who will light the flame. On his way to the holiday celebration, Alexander helps an elderly man who has collapsed in the snow outside the city. This man turns out to be the Keeper of the Flame, who declares Alexander’s gift (the offering of kind aid to a stranger) the winner of the contest. The clearly stated lesson is that kind actions toward others supercede the importance of material gifts; other interpretations include Christian symbolism and the parable of the Good Samaritan. In his first work for children, Craig offers realistic, digitally produced illustrations of the snowy village and its inhabitants dressed in old-fashioned garb, all glowing with candlelight, starlight, and the torch’s flame. His illustrations show the Keeper of the Flame as a striking fellow with a huge white beard and flowing robes: part Moses, part God, part saint, part Santa. Some will find this a saccharine story; his audience will see a parable of faith, hope, and charity. Predictable Evans with predictable results. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83468-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING

This longer story by Nobel Laureate Buck, originally published in 1955, is presented for the first time as an illustrated work for children. Early one Christmas, an older man thinks back to his best Christmas morning in the year that he was 15 and living on his family dairy farm. That year, the narrator of the story, Rob, surprised his father with a special, heart-felt gift by getting up in the middle of the night to do all the milking by himself so his father could have Christmas morning off. The boy’s joy in planning the surprise for his father and the touching appreciation, pride, and love in the father’s gratitude are effectively conveyed in both the moving text and in Buehner’s (Snowmen at Night, p. 1385, etc.) realistic paintings. His deep-toned, striking illustrations are mainly set at night, with snowy farm scenes lit only by glowing lantern and shining star. One spread shows the Nativity scene with puffy clouds in a turquoise evening sky shaped like angel heralds, and the following memorable spread of the barn at night repeats this element with subtle clouds in the shapes of the participants in the manger setting. Buck’s sentimental but touching story memorably illustrates the value of a gift created with love, a gift like Buehner’s. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-16267-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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