The Christmas Feast by Nathalie Dargent

Cover image for The Christmas Feast

The Christmas Feast by Nathalie Dargent, illustrated by Magali Le Huche (9780802855374

The wolf, the fox and the weasel decide that this year they will have a Christmas feast. Fox stole a turkey from the farm, but the plan didn’t quite work out after that. Once at the fox’s house, the turkey started telling the fox how he should prepare for the Christmas feast. The first step was cleaning up a bit. Turkey then asked for dinner, but it turned out that none of the others could cook. So Turkey made them a delicious stew from ingredients they foraged. That night they played cards and had a great time, even giving Turkey the best spot to sleep. The next day, Turkey made them all breakfast and then over the next few days, they decorated for Christmas. Finally on Christmas Eve, Turkey announced it was time for them to cook her, she requested to be flambeed. The friends dodged the question, but Turkey had the perfect solution in the end, one that worked for Christmas and the seasons that followed.

This Christmas story is a great twist on trickster tales of creatures being captured to be eaten and then tricking their captors into allowing them to escape. Here, there is a true friendship that is created on the pages, with Turkey enjoying their time together just as much as the others. It works because Turkey is entirely in charge from the very time she enters their home. She may be demanding, but she also provides for them, cares for them and makes their days better.

The art is cartoony and clear. The art has a sense of merriment throughout, showcasing Turkey as she leads the group of predators, creating a happy home for them all. There are small details throughout their home that are worth exploring, especially as the home changes with Turkey’s influence.

This is a book that will work well shared aloud in a holiday story time or around the Christmas tree. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Review: The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole

money well save

The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole

When Ma is forced to send Pa to the store for eggs and flour, she warns him to just buy those two items.  But Pa is talked into purchasing a turkey poult at the market because of the money he’ll save.  They plan on having the turkey for Christmas dinner after feeding it on scraps and letting it live in a box by the stove.  But their nineteenth century apartment was definitely not designed to raise poultry.  Alfred, the turkey, grew and grew and soon started to eat much more than table scraps.  The family started to get creative with where they could house Alfred but there wasn’t much they could do with the limited space.  As Christmas neared, the mess and stink of a turkey was getting to be too much.  Though he may be messy, the children started to love Alfred.  What happened when Alfred became more of a pet than a meal?

The setting here is brilliantly done.  The depiction of the tenement building, the attitudes of the hard-working family, and the frugality of their family life all are vividly depicted.  The 19th century time period works well for a Christmas story, one that focuses more on family than on expense and presents.  This is an old-fashioned Christmas tale with lots of heart and character.

Cole’s art also captures the day-to-day life of this family.  The clothes and home immediately let readers know that they are not reading about today.  The illustrations are a jumble of family life, turkey mess, and a small space packed with furniture.  The illustrations have a real heart to them, filled with familial love and busyness.

Highly recommended, this book is a great one to add to Christmas traditions.  It is sure to have smiles beaming from all ages and will inspire the sharing of your family’s holiday memories.  Add this one to Christmas story times too as a break from Santa Claus and presents.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Captain Small Pig

Captain Small Pig by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Susan Varley

Spend a day on the lake with Old Goat, Turkey and Small Pig.  Small Pig is the youngster who is eager about everything and wants to do things himself.  Turkey automatically responds with a no to every request while Old Goat allows Small Pig to do what he asks.  Small Pig gets his own turn to row, gets to try to fish for a whale, and declares himself to be Captain Small Pig!  Old Goat and Turkey shepherd him safely through the day and into the evening, even carrying a dozing Small Pig home to bed.  This book is gentle, reassuring and a beautiful way to spend a day on the water with friends.

The dynamics between the characters is an integral part of the success of this book.  Turkey may seem stern, but he is the one who carries the sleeping child home wrapped in a warm blanket.  Old Goat is doting and exactly what every child needs in their life.  The skill of Waddell is that the two adult characters’ relationship is never clarified.  So readers can see it as they wish.  They could be two grandfathers, two uncles, or two fathers. 

Waddell has built a world of safety and contentment in the this book.  Varley expands that feeling with her pen and ink illustrations that use soft colors and have a timeless feeling to them.   Readers will yearn to be on this outing with these characters, fishing, gliding and just spending time.

A lovely addition to library collections, this gentle story will float its way to bedtimes and quiet reading corners.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.

Also reviewed by Becky at Young Readers.

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