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Publisher: Shooting Star Editions, American Literary Press,
Material: hard cover
Summary: When a married couple decides to decorate their Christmas tree with a Santas, nutcrackers, and tin soldiers. All of the other ornaments are set aside. Although they have been treasured for years, they were donated to the Humane Society, with the hope that they would adorn someone else's tree. But now it is Christmas Eve and the ornaments still sit in a box. Is there hope for them this Christmas? In this holiday picture book, the ornaments help tell the story.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 5 to 10
Reading Level: 3.9
Age of Child: Read with 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter could relate to the ornaments and felt very sad that no one loved them. She was happy when they were finally hung on a tree. "Why is there a tiger on the tree when it's only supposed to be Santas and soldiers and nutcrackers?" It was a question we couldn't answer.
Adult Reader Reaction: We will likely see the theme of this story when we decorate this year. Every ornament will be on the tree, I'm sure. While the sentiment is timeless, the story is awkward. The author's style creates a distance between you and the characters because they don't have names; they are "the boy," "the girl," "the husband," etc.
Pros: Kids will relate to this story where ornaments come to life.
Cons: The amount of text overpowers the illustrations. The descriptions are long, and there are loose ends: why is there a jaguar on the tree? How is he a "dated ornament" (he's not in the list)? Where did Alexa, Emma and Trevor come from on the last page? None of the main characters have names (including the children visiting the Humane Society store), but on the last page three of the four children hanging ornaments have names.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a seasonal story that reminds us about the reason for the season. Still, there are other, stronger stories with characters kids can connect to through illustration and personality.
Educational Themes: This is a Christmas story that wraps the religious foundation for the holiday in a tale about ornaments. There are a number of themes you can draw on to build out the story: compassion, feelings (jealousy, happiness, sadness, loss), charity, and recycling.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 3.9
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, Christmas, emotions, family