A strange, original Christmas tale that suggests a sweet family tradition within an anachronistic adventure.


The Very First Christmas Stocking and the Gifts of the Seven Coins

When two young angels crash-land their shooting star in a shepherd’s meadow on the first Christmas Eve, they begin a journey that may sprout some family rituals in this debut picture book.

On a clear night, a shepherd named Mr. David; his wife, Ms. Elizabeth; and their five children admire the beautiful bright star in the heavens. Suddenly, their lives are turned upside-down by Gabe and Gabriella, two angel children who have come, via a flying-carlike shooting star, to invite the family to welcome the baby Jesus into the world. When Betsy, the youngest child, says she’s sad they have no presents to give the baby for his birthday, Gabe supplies an answer, giving each of them a blank silver coin. As the shepherd family travels with Gabriella to Bethlehem, each coin takes on a virtue represented by its giver: sharing, integrity, friendship, joy, forgiveness, kindness, and love. When the clan reaches the stable, it presents Ms. Mary with the gifts for the baby, which she places in special pockets of a stocking she made for her child. The next day, the shepherd and his family discover they, too, have been given stockings to hang on their hearth, and each is given a similar coin, with the instruction to share them with each other over the year in a charming practice some readers might embrace. The angel children bring the holy family to join the shepherd’s clan for a feast and party, complete with pony rides and birthday cake. Some readers familiar with the story of the first Christmas may enjoy LaFargue’s anachronistic twists, from the family naming conventions to the integration of modern customs like stockings and cake. Others, however, may find these juxtapositions jarring and be distracted by the reinforced traditional gender roles (Ms. Elizabeth bakes for her family as the story opens; only the girls offer to babysit Jesus; Gabriella never suggests driving the shooting star herself). While young readers should delight in Harper’s joyful and colorful illustrations, which navigate the odd tale well, they are unlikely to be patient enough for the lengthy text.

A strange, original Christmas tale that suggests a sweet family tradition within an anachronistic adventure.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5027-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2017

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.


From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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