A fresh Christmas story interspersed with joyful, age-old holiday traditions.

READ REVIEW

THE TASTE OF SNOW

Through trials and small miracles, a young girl gains a true appreciation for the magic of the holiday season in Masse’s children’s novel.

When 11-year-old Nicole Kinders receives a “magic candy cane” from a local shopkeeper on her way to school at the beginning of the holiday season, she pockets it gingerly but skeptically. However, immediately following the exchange, strange events occur and Nicole can’t get the idea of “magic” out of her head—during a fight on the school bus, when she goes skiing with her sister and the neighbor boys pelt them with golf balls and when she gets so sick that she’s forced to miss an Advent church service. While she stays home in bed and her family is away, an accidental fire burns part of the house. Luckily she manages to escape, but all the close calls inspire her to return to the shopkeeper and demand he take back the candy cane because it isn’t magic after all. He then helps her realize that although bad things have happened, good things have happened as well; her grandparents, uncle and new aunt have come to visit for the holidays and their presence is a kind of magic, too. But Nicole’s greatest test is yet to come, when she ventures out on the snowy slopes by herself one afternoon and is stranded by nightfall. Will the magic of the candy cane be enough to protect her against the elements? The story’s setting, a small village in the Alpine region of Austria, lends itself fabulously to this story in terms of sensory atmosphere and culture. Masse deftly describes the winter chill and the sights and smells of the holiday, while also weaving inspiring tales that demonstrate a deep appreciation for the triumph of the human spirit in a region where people have suffered hardships in the past century. Nicole grows as a character and readers will root for her as she learns to appreciate the blessings in her life and to confront her problems head on. Masse balances realistic harrowing experiences with festive holiday cheer and the result is a satisfying Christmastime novel.

A fresh Christmas story interspersed with joyful, age-old holiday traditions.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0979963810

Page Count: 207

Publisher: Good Harbor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A friendly celebration of love for the youngest of readers.

YOU'RE MY LITTLE CHICKADEE

A yellow chick is showered with love.

“You’re my little chickadee. / You mean everything in the world to me.” So begins this ode to a caregiver’s love for their little ones, a message emphasized by the “made with love” logo on the cover. The soft, pastel palette and simple, quick pace make this ideal for the smallest readers. The figure of the chick spreads so large across the page that its topknot is actually made of a stuffed, felt orange poof that rests atop the book, held in place by the back cover. Babies still teething will adore nibbling on it. Readers just beginning to learn how to hold books in their tiny hands will find much to enjoy here, but the window for use is a relatively small one. Caregivers with any familiarity with North American birds will be irked at the use of “chickadee” to describe this generic yellow bird, as it looks nothing like an actual chickadee, either juvenile or adult.

A friendly celebration of love for the youngest of readers. (Board book. 6 mos.-1)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-11089-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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