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SECRETS OF A CHRISTMAS BOX

Author: Steven Hornby

Illustrator: Gabriel Hordos, chapter

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Publisher: Ecky Thump Books,

Material: hard cover

Summary: It is the night before Christmas Eve, and the Fergusons have decorated their tree. Once they are asleep, the Tree-Dwellers (aka ornaments) come to life, getting reacquainted after spending a year in their special box. Larry, a glass snowman, is happy to be reunited with Debbie (an elf-like deer), and his pet Tinsel. He travels up and down the tree searching for his brother Terrence, but Terrence didn't make it to the tree this year. Larry isn't content to just let it go, and, with the encouragement of a new ornament named Splint, they do the unthinkable: they leave the tree. To find Terrance they have to get past the Tree Lord's army, out to the garage, and then back ... past the cat. Is this too much adventure for the Tree-Dwellers? This is a picture for helping kids understand moods and feelings.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 7to 10; read yourself: 10 to 13

Interest Level: 7 to 13

Reading Level: 5.6

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fascinating book. It offers a lot for older kids, and the author's care in telling the story brings the characters to life from their perspective, using words and actions that would be appropriate for them as living ornaments. This is a book for older children. Although Santa still lives in the story, and there is plenty of imagery for young listeners, there are events - like Terrence's "death" and the battle with the Tree-Lord - that might be a little too fierce. The humans are secondary to the story, but it would be nice if they were less stereotypical and had individual personalities. The parents' conversations seem pretty stilted.

Pros: Clever writing and lots of action will engage older kids who want a meaty Christmas story.

Cons: Although there is lots of fantasy, this is not a classic fairy tale where no one gets hurt. Some kids who still believe that Christmas is "all goodness and light" could be surprised by some of the events.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a clever story and would be fun to share in chapters over several nights to allow the suspense to build. I'm not sure I would buy it as a classic for my collection.

If You Liked This Book, Try: AN ORPHAN'S PROMISE; A CHRISTMAS STORY   AN ORNAMENTS' TALE   SOLSTICE: A MYSTERY OF THE SEASON

Educational Themes: There are themes of friendship, loss, and acceptance, that round out this story that is meant for enjoying a Christmas story.

Notes: The author donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, Christmas, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2009

Other Reviews:




                 

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