A captivating Christmas story with a magic all its own.

THE CHRISTMAS WISH

Make a wish—for a truly magical Christmas story with supersized photographs of a darling little girl napping with a polar bear, meeting a reindeer and flying across the snowy sky in Santa’s sleigh.

The little girl, Anja, lives somewhere “so far north that the mothers never pack away the wool hats or mittens.” That snowy land is presumably Norway, where the book’s photographer and author live with their real-life daughter, Anja, the charming model dressed in traditional Scandinavian clothing for the striking photographs that illustrate the story. The fictional Anja dreams of becoming one of Santa’s elves, and one snowy day in December, she sets off on her skis to find Santa Claus. She is helped by talking animals, including a reindeer who leads her to Santa in his sleigh. Santa allows Anja to drive the sleigh and delivers her back to her snow-covered home with a gift of a magical bell. The superb photographs are, of course, digitally composed, but with such skill that little Anja really seems to be riding on the back of a polar bear, skiing down a mountainside or flying through the sky in Santa’s sleigh. The photographs use lovely backgrounds of snowy trees, sparkling icicles and the northern lights to create an enchanted atmosphere echoed by the text, which unfolds in fairy-tale cadences.

A captivating Christmas story with a magic all its own. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-449-81681-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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