Suffused with and inspiring gratitude and joy. Amen.

GIVING THANKS

A beautiful collection that manages to be both near-universal and deeply personal.  

Wilder Award winner Paterson offers an essay before each section: “Gather Around the Table,” “A Celebration of Life,” “The Spirit Within” and “Circle of Community.” In each, she illuminates a small moment: the scent of an orange; watching a cicada emerge from its shell over a steamy summer hour. The words that follow come from the King James Bible and Hildegard of Bingen, from speeches (“I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King Jr.) and from poetry (snatches from Wendell Berry and e.e. cummings), from non–Judeo-Christian traditions (the Navajo “house made of dawn”) to songs (Bill Staines’ delightful “All God’s Critters”) and spirituals (“All of God’s Children Got a Song”). All of them indeed give thanks and praise. Readers can give thanks and praise for the illustrations, too: Scherenschnitte, cut-paper illustrations of extraordinary power. In borders and full pages and spot images, Dalton once again wields her scissors in pursuit of magic. From deceptively simple (a grasshopper, a bird’s nest, a candle flame) to extraordinarily complex (a border of sunflowers, a plethora of vegetables), the pictures are as meditative as the words. The final page is “Blessed be” in the calligraphy of Anne Robin.

Suffused with and inspiring gratitude and joy. Amen. (Picture book/poetry. 7 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1339-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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