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"...tasteful and tacky go head-to-head in “The Perfect Christmas,” a lighthearted study in contrasting holiday styles."--NYTimes.com
“…the jolly collage art ties it all together, depicting each family’s traditions with finesse.” --Horn Book Magazine
“This is a cheerful, funny, and respectful portrayal of two very different families and their holiday celebrations.” --School Library Journal
Spinelli and Adinolfi team up again for a look at another perfect holiday celebration, following the same families chronicled in their collaboration onThe Perfect Thanksgiving(2003).
The unnamed narrator describes her family's preparations for a casual, homemade Christmas celebration, contrasting their way of doing things with those of her best friend and neighbor, Abigail Archer. In rhyming quatrains, the narrator tells about Abigail's family, "as perfect as can be," cutting their own Christmas tree, arranging elegant decorations and serving gourmet treats. The narrator's family has a more casual approach, with a scrawny, artificial tree, recycled decorations and cookies so hard one once "broke my uncle's toe." Though the comparisons are humorous and both girls seem happy, the Archer family is obviously wealthier than that of the narrator, and some of the comparisons (for example, between a chauffeur-driven limousine and a pickup truck) are both exaggerated and elitist. By the conclusion, both families are outside on equal footing, enjoying a snowfall together. Adinolfi's cheerful collage illustrations in a naïve style provide a bright, detailed environment and multiracial families in both homes.
The author's point may be that anyjoyous celebration with a happy family is a perfect Christmas, but this class-based comparison doesn't seem to be the aptest focus for a children's holiday story.(Picture book. 4-7)