Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story

Gloria Whelan, illus. by Stephen Costanza. Sleeping Bear, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-58536-483-1
National Book Award–winner Whelan (Homeless Bird) writes a substantive story about the value of perseverance. It’s set in a medieval monastery, where the hard-of-hearing and vainglorious abbot mistakenly appoints young “Smudge,” so-called for his sloppiness and tendency to give up easily, to help Brother Gregory write and illuminate the Christmas story. Written with humor, empathy, and an eye toward human foibles, this story develops and resolves with charm, and its message goes down easy. Costanza (A Christmas Spider’s Miracle) paints full-page interiors in deep hues of red, green, and purple that convey both the darkness of the monastery and the illumination within its inhabitants. All ages. Agent: Liza Pulitzer-Voges, Eden Street Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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