STARRED REVIEW
December 12, 2020

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

STARRED REVIEW

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

December 12, 2020

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

STARRED REVIEW
December 12, 2020

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

December 12, 2020

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

STARRED REVIEW
December 12, 2020

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

STARRED REVIEW
December 12, 2020

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

December 12, 2020

Yes, even the mice: Christmas picture books with tiny protagonists and big hearts

Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

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Kind and generous mice are the stars of the show in two sparkling picture books that prove that no heart is too small to spread the joy of Christmas.

When Clement Clarke Moore penned his famous holiday poem in the early 19th century, he had no way to know that “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” as it was originally titled, would become one of the most beloved Christmas verses of all time. He certainly couldn’t have imagined how famous the lines “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” would become.

But according to Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini’s Mouse’s Night Before Christmas, there was, in fact, a mouse stirring on that Yuletide evening. In this alternate version of events, a lonely mouse is spending the night gazing in awe at the tree, decorations and gifts of the human family whose house he shares while wishing he had a friend to celebrate with. When Santa lands (with a clatter, naturally) on the lawn, having lost his way in a snowstorm, Mouse offers to act as his guide and help save the day. Will Santa make Mouse’s Christmas wish come true?

Corderoy recounts her heartwarming mouse-capade in rhyming verses that reflect the spirit of Moore’s original poem. In lines such as “He was quiet, and careful, and ever so neat— / quite the best little helper that Santa could meet!” she strikes the perfect balance between honoring Moore’s phrasing and adding her own lively twists.

Illustrator Massini’s wonder-filled images anchor the book in gorgeous pastel hues with splashes of holiday red on Santa’s suit, the reindeer's harnesses and Mouse’s dashing scarf. As Santa’s sleigh soars across the sky, it leaves a trail of bluish-white stars in its wake that contrast beautifully against the dark and wintry night sky. Massini’s work is filled with texture: the spiky needles of the Christmas tree, the curly wisps of Santa’s beard, the colorful knits of the handmade stockings hanging from the mantel.

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas is a joyful addition to the canon of Christmas picture books. It’s steeped in tradition, holiday magic and the happiness that comes from helping others and sharing joy with someone special.

A mouse named Mistletoe already has a best buddy, an elephant named Norwell, in Tad Hills' Mistletoe: A Christmas Story, a tale of unlikely friendship that will call to mind Arnold Lobel’s beloved Frog and Toad adventures.

Lively and determined, Mistletoe is an avid knitter whose lace collars, jolly striped tights and matching red cap, coat and boots epitomize prim-and-proper fashion. Norwell is a thoughtful artist who loves to stay cozy indoors, while Mistletoe loves nothing better than being outside in the falling snow. Try as she might, tiny Mistletoe can’t convince her friend to join her. Sitting by Norwell’s fire and enjoying each other’s company, they each begin to plan a Christmas surprise for the other.

Like Lobel, Hills uses understated humor throughout the story to underscore the differences between his two characters and highlight their friendship in ways guaranteed to bring a smile to readers both young and old. “Just a drop for me, and a cookie crumb, please,” Mistletoe says when offered tea. Later, as Mistletoe works night and day to knit a gift for Norwell, she “realizes two things: one, sometimes you don’t have enough yarn, and two, elephants are big!” The creator of the bestselling Duck and Goose series, Hills is hardly a stranger to odd-couple friendships, and his lively prose energizes this otherwise quiet tale.

Using a palette of bright, bold colors, Hills skillfully alternates lively panels, full-page illustrations and double-page spreads to depict Mistletoe’s holiday mission and reveal how she transforms her giant rainbow-colored balls of yarn into an enormous present for Norwell. Mistletoe knits everywhere—even in the bathtub ("which isn't easy")—in order to finish on time. Her efforts to haul her massive creation to Norwell’s house are especially comical.

A timeless story about appreciating and honoring differences among friends, Mistletoe merrily conveys the seasonal feeling of joy we experience when we share gifts from the heart.

Get the Books

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas

By Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Sarah Massini
Nosy Crow
ISBN 9781536214406
Mistletoe

Mistletoe

By Tad Hills
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 9780593174425

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