Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or
Yitzi and the Giant Menorah

Richard Ungar. Tundra, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77049-812-9

The mayor of Lublin presents another village with a giant menorah for its town square: “Eight dazzling branches flowed from a magnificent stem.” Such magnanimity demands an appropriate thank you, but what? Since the village in question is Chelm and, according to Jewish legend, populated by fools, finding the answer turns into a giddy, harebrained obsession. After several townspeople fail, young Yitzi devises a plan that not only works but also gets the Chelmites back in touch with the beauty and joy of Hanukkah. When Ungar’s (Even Higher) compositions are tightly focused, his signature folkloric style and swirling pastels make for some stunning, if earnest (given the subject matter) images. But too many of the pictures lack interesting framings or narrative momentum and can feel more like a busy array of pretty colors. Ages 5–9. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cody and Grandpa’s Christmas Tradition

Gary Metivier, illus. by Traci Van Wagoner. Pelican, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4556-2170-5

During his family’s Christmas Eve celebration, Cody finds his grandfather sitting alone upstairs, gazing at a photograph of the men he served with in Vietnam. Grandpa explains how he and his fellow soldiers sang “Silent Night” under a bright star one Christmas Eve. That night, the soldiers vowed to gaze up at a star every Christmas Eve to “think about each other and those who didn’t come home.” Although Cody can sometimes take on a stiff, doll-like appearance, Van Wagoner (The Mermaid’s Gift) elegantly transitions from scenes of the festive household to shadowy ones of Cody’s grandfather in his youth at war. It’s hard to believe that Grandpa has sequestered himself away from the family on Christmas Eve for decades without it having been addressed (“No one has ever asked me about this picture,” Grandpa tells Cody), but Metivier (Until Daddy Comes Home) nevertheless delivers a poignant story about remembrance and togetherness. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Christmas Eve Tree

Delia Huddy, illus. by Emily Sutton. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7917-0

A homeless boy and a scraggly fir tree rescue each other in this somber tale about the potential in all living things, including those that society casts aside. As the shopping bustle winds down on Christmas Eve, a boy wanders into a department store, attracted by the warmth and decorations. He spies a clerk throwing away a dejected fir tree and asks if he can have it. The late Huddy makes readers privy to the tree’s thoughts, and although it isn’t initially thrilled to be planted in a cardboard box under a bridge, the boy’s makeshift Christmas display attracts a gathering of carolers and musicians. Huddy’s story faces unpleasant realities and injustices head on, and Sutton’s (Tiny Creatures) finely detailed watercolors do the same, but while the tree thrives after being replanted in a city park, the boy’s fate is unknown—he simply wanders off—making for an inconclusive and unsettling ending. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Great Spruce

John Duvall, illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16084-4

Alec loves to climb the spruce tree his grandfather planted years ago, but this year men arrive hoping to use it as a centerpiece in a city holiday display. Distraught, Alec suggests a compromise: “You can borrow the tree instead!” Alec, his grandfather, and members of their community dig up the tree in order to preserve its roots before it travels to the city via tugboat and horse-drawn sleigh. Gibbon’s (The Bee Who Spoke) images of a countryside speckled with cottages and snowy cityscapes recall the work of Ludwig Bemelmans, amplifying the sweetly nostalgic mood of newcomer Duvall’s story. The city isn’t identified, but visual cues suggest it to be New York City, and a closing note discusses how live trees were once used in Rockefeller Center and then replanted on Long Island—a practice that has fallen out of favor, Duvall laments. Ages 5–8. Illustrator’s agency: Riley Illustration. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Nutcracker & Mouseking

Renate Raecke, trans. from the German by Anthea Bell, illus. by Yana Sedova. Minedition (IPG, dist.), $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-988-8341-27-6

Raecke (The Fisherman and His Wife) impressively adapts Hoffmann’s original story of the Nutcracker, using evocative yet accessible language to bring the story to a picture book audience. On page after page, Russian artist Sedova, who illustrated a 2014 adaptation of The Snow Queen, fully embraces the magical events of young Marie Stahlbaum’s Christmas Eve, incorporating visual references to clockwork gears that reflect Godfather Drosselmeier’s mechanical talents, as well as mice, stars, candies, and other thematic elements. The battle scene never becomes too violent—curls of ribbon and bursts of paint abstractly suggest weapon fire—and Marie’s journey into Candytown and beyond with the transformed Nutcracker is full of intriguing images that readers will want to study closely. Raecke leaves readers with Marie’s realization that “the most truly marvelous things may be seen—if only people choose to look,” a message worth remembering throughout the year. Ages 5–7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Santa’s Underwear

Marty Rhodes Figley, illus. by Marty Kelley. Sleeping Bear, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58536-954-6

Santa’s red suit is a classic, but what about what’s underneath? In Figley’s (Emily and Carlo) lighthearted holiday outing, Santa can’t find the “long, red, woolly undies” that he wears each Christmas Eve, so he has to explore other options. Kelley (Albert’s Almost Amazing Adventure) emphasizes the elves’ amused reactions as Santa tries on his pink Valentine’s Day boxers, St. Patrick’s Day long johns, Easter briefs, and Thanksgiving tighty-whities that “were now a little too tighty.” He even contemplates going commando, and Kelley sends the elves diving in front of Santa to protect his modesty. A surprise gift from Santa’s reindeer saves the day—and frees up his other underwear for them to wear during their midnight flight. On their own, Santa and underwear are generally picture book winners; together, they’ll keep kids plenty amused—and hoping their own Christmas gifts don’t include much underwear. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, illus. by Tim Hopgood. Holt, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62779-304-9

Having previously adapted What a Wonderful World into a picture book, Hopgood turns to Bernard and Smith’s holiday classic, featuring the lyrics from Peggy Lee’s version of the song. Using a variety of media including pencil, crayon, and pastel, Hopgood transports readers to a snowy forest where a family outfitted in jackets, hats, mittens, and scarves embark on a hike, accompanied by deer, foxes, birds, and rabbits. Music notes fill the air—and, in one case, the bare branches of a tree, and the scenes strike a balance between reflecting the accompanying lyrics and simply showing a family enjoying itself. The lyrics occasionally diverge from versions of the song that are featured more heavily in holiday rotation (“In the meadow, we can build a snowman./ And pretend that he’s a Santa clown”), but Hopgood’s vivid illustrations should keep readers turning pages and singing along. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Prissy & Pop Deck the Halls

Melissa Nicholson, photos by Petra Terova. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-243996-3

Miniature pigs Priscilla and Poppleton, who star in an Instagram account run by Nicholson with more than 600,000 followers, appear in a series of holiday-themed photographs that trace the lead-up to Christmas. “You know what we should do first?” suggests Pop. “Trim the tree,” Prissy replies as the two are shown in front of a small artificial tree with ornaments scattered across the carpet. Dressed in red-and-green holiday finery, the two pigs pose in front of mixing bowls, punch bowls, and popcorn bowls, as well as a gingerbread house, fireplace, and dangling paper snowflakes, as they appear to take part in an array of holiday traditions. The banter between the pigs can feel almost perfunctory next to the adorable photographs, but readers not charmed by these expressive pigs might want to check that their hearts aren’t made of coal. Ages 4–8. Agent: Andrew Stuart, Stuart Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Nutcracker

New York City Ballet, illus. by Valeria Docampo. Little Simon, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5829-0

Based on the New York City Ballet’s production of Balanchine’s version of The Nutcracker, this retelling springs to vibrant life in Docampo’s elegant, enchanting illustrations; her delicately curving lines, exaggerated shapes, and surreal palette are ideally suited to a story of glamorous holiday parties, fierce battles, and a magical journey to the Land of Sweets. An approachable retelling moves readers swiftly through the events of the story, always emphasizing the magic of the evening at hand (“With a rumble and a shake, the tree began to grow before her eyes.... Marie had never seen anything so big”). Given this story’s connection to the ballet, plenty of time is spent in the Land of Sweets, where Docampo showcases peppermint-striped acrobats leaping with hoops, marzipan flautists en pointe, and other confectionary wonders to spark children’s imaginations. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Mela Bolinao, MB Artists. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Nutcracker

Grace Maccarone, illus. by Célia Chauffrey. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0281-8

Maccarone (Princess Tales) and French illustrator Chauffrey present an odd adaptation of Hoffman’s 1816 story, which spawned the famous Tchaikovsky ballet some 80 years later. Nutcrackers are often an eerie bunch, but Chauffrey’s version can be especially creepy: during the party in which the wooden soldier debuts, his long, corkscrewing tongue flicks a nut into Godfather Drosselmeyer’s waiting mouth. And although Maccarone describes the Nutcracker, somewhat unpleasantly, as “expos[ing] its teeth like a smiling chimp,” it’s Chauffrey’s almost-identical-looking human characters that are the most simian in appearance. Maccarone’s writing is at times clunky (“Only Clara could see beyond the useful function and homely face to a soul that was good and kind”), keeping readers at arms’ length, and the dream segments of the story get short shrift, which may disappoint fans of the ballet’s spirited dance sequences. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.