A story that may be most successful as a spirited, animated read-aloud.

The Secret Snowflake


In this debut picture book, a special child must be found in order to save Christmas.

Each year at 4:31 a.m. on Christmas morning, after Santa Claus has delivered gifts and returned to the North Pole, the Secret Snowflake shines “golden rays of Christmas Spirit” into the hearts of those who “believe in the magic of Christmas.” However, the snowflake’s source of power lessens every year. To restore its strength, a noble child of “pure heart” must be identified and brought to the snowflake’s location, so that the child may make a wish upon it. Three types of “mythical snow creatures” protect the Secret Snowflake, each endowed with special powers. The Spirit Seekers, who discover and transport the child, are described as musical “snowflake fairies” who chant in rhymes and sing in high-pitched voices. One of them is underdog Gossamer, a Spirit Seeker whose delicate wings impede her ability to sing high and clear, thereby preventing her from calling for help when threatened by Joy Robbers, who want the Secret Snowflake to weaken and die. Gossamer flies to Meriden, Connecticut, where she discovers a pure, noble boy named Eddie. He makes her wings stronger with his breath, thus rendering her voice more powerful. With the help of Eddie and other creatures, Gossamer makes a successful trip to the Secret Snowflake, waging a great battle along the way. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to ascertain the appropriate audience for this book; the story contains a level of abstraction that younger children may not be able to fully grasp, as well as a large cast of characters and a complex storyline. There’s also far too much reliance on exposition, particularly in the first few pages, which don’t quickly hook readers with action and dialogue. The amount of text on each page is substantial and some young readers may find this daunting. Some of the illustrations, however, are lovely and colorful, and nicely support the text. The story ends on a strong note: Eddie’s wish is unexpectedly wise, and there’s a final, delightful, and surprising twist.

A story that may be most successful as a spirited, animated read-aloud.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-7017-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2015

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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