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by Shirley Menendez & illustrated by Maggie Kneen

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-46860-9
Publisher: Dutton

With her charming illustrations of a world populated entirely with rabbits, Kneen (Mouse Tail Moon, p. 1479, etc.) succeeds in elevating this rather pedestrian version of an old tale to a higher level. In her first work for children, Menendez weaves a story of a spider named Allie who takes up residence in a rabbit family’s comfortable home. The family is getting ready for Christmas, which the parents emphasize must be a simple celebration this year due to their finances. They trim their tree with homemade decorations and popcorn garlands and under the tree there is just one present for each parent and a Mommy-made doll for their little girl. The illustrations make the family’s Christmas preparations look cozy and pleasant, so the story’s only problem is that there aren’t quite enough gifts or quite enough decorations. To repay the kindness of the rabbit, Allie the resident spider adds sparkling spider-web garlands to the Christmas tree to surprise the family. These lacy spider-web decorations are reproduced with silver glitter on several pages and on the cover, adding a subtle shine. The rabbit family is duly impressed with their Christmas surprise, and on the final page, Allie the spider lays some eggs as she thinks about her next “art project.” The illustrations of the appealing rabbits are the work’s saving grace: the gentle brown rabbits with shining eyes and luminous pink ears invite readers into their world. For a better spin on the origin of tinsel, try Shirley Climo’s Cobweb Christmas (2001). (Picture book. 4-8)