THE FIRST CHRISTMAS STOCKING

Knitting warm dreams along with wool into her socks, a poor child mysteriously earns a lasting reward with an act of charity on Christmas Eve. Sadly carrying on after her mother’s death, little Claire receives a commission for three pairs of stockings just days before Christmas. On her weary way to deliver them, though, she passes a freezing, ragged boy, and is moved to give him two for his feet, two more for his hands, and another for his head. Expecting to have a cold, cheerless Christmas in consequence, she tearfully turns homeward to hang the remaining stocking over the fireplace. In the morning, not only is the sock packed with new wool and other gifts, but the fire in the hearth is lit, and stays lit from then on. Ibatoulline illustrates Winthrop’s mid-length tale with snowy scenes in appropriate soft-focus, featuring a very small child huddled in a dim, sparsely furnished room knitting brightly decorated stockings as her mother—and later on, her loving father—hover in the background. The sentimentality is evident but not overwrought in this tale of kindness recompensed. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-32804-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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AN ELF FOR CHRISTMAS

The text in Garland’s book has little merit, and appears mostly as an excuse for the digital artwork. The night before Christmas, Tingle, a diligent elf in Santa’s workshop, falls asleep in the cockpit of a toy plane he has been working on. When the plane is wrapped, so is he, and the package is tucked into Santa’s sleigh and delivered to Joey for Christmas. Tingle gets homesick, flies the plane homeward, runs out of power, and hitches a ride with a polar bear. Garland makes no effort to endow his principals with any personality or presence; the artwork suffers from a grating juxtaposition of hyperrealism and smoky, blurred imagery. The proportions and depths of field are discomfittingly exaggerated, except for a scene in which the northern lights are on display above Santa’s workshop—there the otherworldliness perfectly matches the event. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-46212-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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