Children's Literature - Barbara L. TalcroftProlific author and illustrator Cabrera (who lives in England’s South Devon) has adapted the traditional English carol for youngest celebrators of the winter holiday. A gallant little boy in a red knitted hat leads his pigtailed friend into a hilly winter landscape to show her a lively party in a pear tree full of birds. They wander through a village, visiting two wildly drumming dogs, three adorable cats, four mice conjuring magical gifts, and on a tall Devon pine, five shining stars. The cumulative song continues, ending with twelve dapper penguins skating on a frozen pond. Though polar bears and white snowmen are appropriate, the stars of the second half are seven bushy-tailed squirrels skiing in pastel gear and nine perky foxes flying down an icy slope on sleds. The eight red-capped elves mixing up cookies, cupcakes, and peppermint sticks are hard to resist, too. The carol ends with a “sleigh ride home for me!” as the boy and girl hitch a ride with Santa and some of the eleven dancing reindeer. Cabrera’s naïve-style adaptation, with its holiday-bright colors painted in snow-textured acrylics, is just right. Little listeners will be able to sing along to the musical score played by an adult or sibling, while flipping back to the opening spread of the entire village to locate all the tiny figures in the lyrics. Kids enchanted by this experience might enjoy visiting Cabrera’s website and blog to see more of her signature style. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft; Ages 2 to 5.
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