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by Petra Mathers & illustrated by Petra Mathers

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83550-7
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

With this fourth entry in her Lottie and Herbie series, Mathers (A Cake for Herbie, 2000, etc.) explores the concepts of a guilty conscience and the difficulty of apologizing within an amusing, nontraditional Christmas story. Watercolor panel illustrations in her charming naïve style introduce the animal characters of Lottie and Herbie’s town of Oysterville, with everyone full of holiday good will and involved in Christmas preparations. Herbie the duck and Lottie the hen stop by Ali Baba’s Bakery, where Herbie can’t resist the temptation of a frosted Santa cookie, and his stolen treat sticks in his throat, both literally and figuratively. In her witty, understated text, Mathers deftly shows how Herbie is sick with remorse and sure that everyone knows about the theft, and then shows how hard it is to apologize to those whose trust has been violated. The bakers and Lottie forgive Herbie his trespass and are willing to remain his friends, and in a calm, satisfying conclusion, Herbie gives Lottie a Christmas gift of a handmade gold star that brightens up a cloudy day, just like a warm friendship. In addition to working well as a different sort of Christmas story, this cautionary tale will also serve to ward off any child’s remote idea of shoplifting or even tasting an unauthorized bite of the merchandise. (Picture book. 3-7)