Not as impressive as much of Gibbons's previous work, this curiously flat portrait centers on holiday preparations on a small island (ostensibly in Maine). Frequent use of the passive voice (``Boxes of ornaments have been pulled out from storage'') and the namelessness of the characters (``In a cozy house someone clicks knitting needles together as a mitten takes shape'') make for an impersonal, sometimes stiff account. But as her text and perky artwork show how the islanders decorate their homes and boats, select a tree for the school and church, etc., Gibbons successfully imparts this community's earnest sharing and caring. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)
As warm as a holiday greeting card, this seasonal offering introduces the intriguing particulars of island life as they are manifest at Christmas time. Gibbons, who lives part-time on an island off the Maine coast, depicts the ways in which a homogeneous group of islanders, who have "no grand public event to give the feeling of Christmas," draw together and create their own festive occasion. Gibbons' artwork, bright with primary colors, shows vignettes of preparation and celebration, and her signature style has been softened somewhat (the art in her nonfiction is often more formal) to match the more casual flavor of the text.