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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THE JAR OF FOOLS

EIGHT HANUKKAH STORIES FROM CHELM

Chelm, the legendary Jewish town of fools, is the setting of Kimmel’s (The Runaway Tortilla, see below, etc.) Jewish holiday tales, only two of which are based on traditional Yiddish stories. The others are original or adaptations of stories from other traditions. All of them feature the “wise” fools whose naïveté gets them into strange situations and provides amusing solutions to their dilemmas. Some of the eight stories work better than others. “The Jar of Fools,” “Silent Samson, the Maccabee,” two traditional stories, and “The Soul of a Menorah,” written by Kimmel, are humorous, with surprise endings. “The Magic Spoon” is an adaptation of the stone soup story in which the stranger makes potato pancakes rather than soup. Other stories are less satisfying. Characters and plot strain for credibility—“How They Play Dreidel in Chelm” may lose its point for those readers who do not already know how the dreidel game is played. Gerstein’s (The Wild Boy, 1998, etc.) ink drawings on oil paint create a fantastic setting in which the characters wear rollerskates, snowshoes, bunny slippers, or duck feet. They sport bananas or fish necklaces, pots for hats, medieval ruffs, and costumes of every sort. Each illustration has fantastic details that transcend time and place. Page borders appropriate to the theme of the story help to break the dense format. An uneven collection, but a few of the stories will provide short seasonal read-alouds. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1463-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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HALLOWEEN MOTEL

Creature feature fans are sure to find their favorite nightmares attending this Halloween soiree. Ready to party at the Halloween Motel, a family checks in, dons costumes (Dad’s Elvis—the horror, the horror), and breezily heads off down the halls to meet the other guests—all of whom wear amazingly realistic ghost, ghoul, mummy, vampire, zombie, witch, and other outfits. The rhymed text trots merrily along, with occasional choruses, and frequent changes in typeface and size, for variety. Rocco’s postmodern cartoon scenes, done in garish greens and purples, are chock-full of googlies, more caricatured than scary. When the irritated guests complain about “weirdos” coming to their doors, patchy green desk clerk Frankie Stein lurches up to inform the trick-or-treaters that they’re at the wrong venue; the Halloween Motel is down the road a piece. More giggles and squiggles from the author and illustrator of Snow Inside the House (1998), this is guaranteed to be a big storytime hit. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028815-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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