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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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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