cover image Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree

Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree

Lori Nichols. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16756-0

Maple and her younger sister, Willow, return in their fourth picture book, and they’re busy with the “hard work” of Christmas preparations, including baking cookies, selecting “the best Christmas tree... in the whole wide world,” and decorating it. When Maple starts sneezing as soon as the fir tree comes inside, the sisters’ visions of Christmas are upended. Nichols does a lovely job of showing the closeness between these girls (discussions of which tree is best are conducted in pig Latin) and how that closeness is, at least temporarily, threatened. “Willow, I’m sorry I ruined Christmas,” Maple confesses. “I’m sorry you ruined Christmas, too,” Willow replies. The younger girl’s anger and disappointment are short-lived, and her (truly unexpected) solution to their allergy-driven holiday dilemma will bring smiles to readers’ faces, just as it does to Maple’s. Ages 3–5. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Oct.)