THE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

This single-author holiday anthology fairly drips with sugary nostalgia for a storybook version of an English Christmas. A novella, set in the late 1940s, portrays the young daughter of a poor seamstress trying to keep Christmas while her mother lies ill with pneumonia (the local gentry save the day with a hamper of Christmas treats); another reminisces about an Edwardian Christmas at an Anglican parsonage where, after holly-laden festivities, the young daughter pays pastoral calls with Papa, bearing a hamper of Christmas goodies. One short story describes a boy's breathless sledding on a longed-for white Christmas; another is about a lonely old widower who finds an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and takes it to a hospital, where it is laid lovingly in the annual cräche scene. A final, tedious poem listens to a litany of animals echoing a message on midnight Christmas Eve, summoning all to a wondrous stable scene. Long on misty-eyed description, short on plot and character development, Hill's (King of Kings, 1993, etc.) treacly tales are illustrated with unappealing dark woodcuts, many of them too small. (Fiction. 5+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-56402-341-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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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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JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Years before he died, Jeremy Fink’s father prepared a box containing “the meaning of life” for his son to open on his 13th birthday. When Jeremy receives the box a few months before that momentous day, the keys are missing, and it’s up to him and his best friend Lizzy to find a way into the box. The search for the keys—or, failing the keys, the meaning of life itself—takes the two throughout New York City and into a spot of trouble, which lands them a very unusual community-service sentence: They must return treasures to the children, now grown, who pawned them long ago. This device brings Jeremy and Lizzy—both originals to the core—into contact with a calculated variety of characters, all of whom have their own unique angles on the meaning of life. Mass spins a leisurely tale that’s occasionally Konigsburg-esque, carefully constructed to give narrator Jeremy ample time to reflect on his encounters. It may be a subplot or two in need of a trim, and the resolution will surprise nobody but Jeremy, but agreeable on the whole. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-05829-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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