Ages 5-9, Grades K-4
Review: This is a lovely picture book reminiscent of the 1930s and 1940s books for children. The illustrations are soft, sweet, charming and beautifully drawn. The story is somewhat bilingual in that the characters, Nicholas and his Abuelo (grandpa) use Spanish words here and there. The story is in English.
It is Winter and there is a blizzard raging and it is Christmas Eve. There is a small, young apple tree in the yard which Nicholas and Aubelo have planted. Nicholas is worried about his little tree. Looking out the window he spies a fallen Cardinal and rushes out to rescue the little bird. They feed, shelter, and water the bird and the following day - Christmas - they release the bird.Then a bit of folklore style magic takes place - for many following years the apple tree is covered with Cardinals on Christmas Day.
In the back of the book, Arbordale lives up to its reputation for educational stories by factoring in some "Creative Minds" activities - Spanish and English Glossary, Teaching Trivia about birds and especially Cardinals, Making a Bird-Happy Backyard Habitat, and then a couple of pages dedicated to bird feeders.
A super book to entertain and educate. (rev. V.G)
About the author: Andrea Vlahakis (Christmas Eve Blizzard) is a busy children's author, having been published in Highlights for Children, Turtle, Ladybug and Appleseeds. In addition to her own writing, Andrea is an instructor at the Institute of Children's Literature. A large portion of Andrea's work revolves around nature and birds. The inspiration for this book comes from her childhood home. When she was eight, her father hung a cardinal-red birdfeeder from their old apple tree and her love of bird watching was born. It also comes from her own rescue of a bird during a blizzard a few years ago, with the help of an equally snowbound wildlife rescue person on the other end of the phone. Andrea lives in Connecticut surrounded by woods, streams, and lots of birds to watch. For more information, visit her website at www.AndreaVlahakis.com.
About the illustrator: Emanuel (Manny) Schongut (Christmas Eve Blizzard and Turtles in my Sandbox) is a prolific, multi-faceted freelance illustrator who works in children's books, book covers, textbook illustration, editorial art, posters, and advertising art - essentially he does it all!. Some of his numerous clients include Masterpiece and Mystery Theater, Public Television, New York Magazine, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. His cover art and/or illustrations grace books from a wide variety of book publishers including Harper & Row, MacMillan, Doubleday, Morrow, Green Willow Books, and now Arbordale. In addition to his own artwork, Manny taught reportorial art and figure drawing at Pratt Institute in New York for several years. He now illustrates and teaches in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit Manny's Website.
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Arbordale Publishing for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.