A charming Christmas book for all ages.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

In this lovingly packaged illustrated children’s book, everyone has been naughty this year, and Santa is ready to exchange toys for coal, until a very good and wise little girl named Molly sets him straight.

At home in the North Pole, Santa is distressed to learn from one of his elves that the world’s children, from “Alice in Dallas” to “Pio in Rio,” have been unusually bad this year. No presents this year, he decrees, ordering the elf to load the sleigh with coal. “This Christmas I’ll bring them the thing they deserve!” Readers will probably find this uncharacteristically harsh, and so does Molly, who encounters Santa on her hearth as a frowning “stranger in black” (he’s covered with ash). He softens when he realizes that Molly is one of the few “good” children on his list, so much so that he’s willing to be reminded by her that Christmas “marks the birth of a glorious child” who “taught us it’s best if we learn to forgive!” As the story ends, Molly and Santa, along with Molly’s mouse, Nibbles, drive off in the sleigh together to deliver presents. Thach’s book, his first, is a Christian allegory, with Molly’s gentle faith in her fellow children amending Santa’s Old Testament–inspired sense of crime and punishment. (Nibbles’ role is somewhat more difficult to parse.) But the overtly religious content is minimal, and the rhyming text—with the same meter and opening words as “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—is enjoyable and generally not preachy. A glossary in the back explains some of the more poetic words scattered throughout the author’s verse—e.g., “abode,” “espy” and “wrath.” The book’s production values are high, with a red and gold velvet binding and lush, full-color illustrations by Bernal (Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery, 2010, etc.). Bernal’s palette can be a bit oversaturated, but otherwise, his warm illustrations have much the same appeal as Norman Rockwell’s and Fred Mizen’s iconic paintings of Santa. A two-page spread showing Molly, on one page, looking up at Santa beseechingly, and Santa, on the other, glowering downward, is particularly well-done.

A charming Christmas book for all ages.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9825663-1-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bowrider Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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

MAYBE

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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