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THE TASTE OF SNOW

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

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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