Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Secrets Revealed

I will finish my holiday book reviews with just one or two more picks. Then next week we are going to check out some talented children's book illustrators before heading into the realms of books with CDs and three-dimensional (pop-up) books. 

"Secrets of a Christmas Box" 
By Steven Hornby 
Illustrated by Justin Gerard 
For ages 8 – 12
Ever wonder why pine needles from your Christmas tree are found in rooms no one has been in? Or why no matter how well you pack your Christmas ornaments at least one is always found broken the next year? These are a couple questions posed on the liner notes for “Secrets of a Christmas Box.” The notes also suggest you read one chapter of “Secrets of a Christmas Box” each night during December. With 24 chapters you would conveniently finish the tale during bedtime stories on Christmas Eve. The notes piqued my interest so I began reading but, the pacing is weak and it takes several chapters to develop any interest in the characters or their situation. So one chapter a night may not work.

The magic and wonder "Christmas Box" are great. Larry the Snowman wakes up from his yearly sleep to find that his brother has not made it back to the tree. Unwilling to except that "some ornaments just don’t make it back," Larry, his girlfriend, Debbie, and a newcomer named Splint buck the rules and head into the house and beyond in search of Larry's lost brother.

The family cat, snow and other hidden dangers await the rescue party as they make their way to the box. Upon arrival they uncover a dastardly plan set in motion by the Tree-Lord, a pinecone shaped light that watches over the tree. The action really takes off as an army of tree lights then try to stop the crew from exposing the awful truth of broken ornaments.

Yes, "Secrets of a Christmas Box" could have been a truly wonderful Christmas tale. I so wanted it to be the next classic. Instead too many choppy paragraphs, poor pacing, and weak subplots, left me only willing to say that it's okay.

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