cover image The Christmas of the Reddle Moon

The Christmas of the Reddle Moon

J. Patrick Lewis. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1566-0

As an author's note explains, ``reddle'' (a red clay) was sold in centuries past in rural England by simple folk to farmers who used it for marking sheep. Here, a brother and sister lost on the heath during a blizzard on Christmas Eve are rescued by a ``reddlewoman.'' She uses magic to summon St. Nick, who sees the children safely home. Lewis writes with the pen of an angel; his imagery (a ``ragged tooth sky,'' ``a violent snowstorm... bucketing out the sky,'' ``horses [that] whisper steam in their stalls'') is sheer beauty. And the snow-softened landscapes and shadowy interiors of Kelley's moody, expressive pastels create a setting worthy of the tale. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)