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

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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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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