Reviews for Christmastime

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
*Starred Review* Christmas Eve gets a particularly imaginative treatment--a lovely one, too--in this almost wordless story that follows a brother and sister from their front hall to the North Pole. Each picture, done in Jay's distinctive, folk-art style, layered with crackle varnish, uses symbols of the season to bring the children closer to seeing Santa. The one or two words of text per page (holiday card, stocking, reindeer) are matched by vignettes of different shapes and some full-page images, and many pictures are set against snowy backgrounds. Whimsy abounds as carolers pass a lively snowman who then sleds close to a polar bear. Though at first glance straightforward, the pages hold many surprises for those who look closely: characters from previous pictures dot the succeeding landscapes, and images from Christmas songs are tucked in the paintings for children to find (the Little Drummer Boy is a toy in Santa's workshop). Since Jay is British, some of these songs, like The Holly and the Ivy, won't be as familiar as others; but who doesn't know Rudolph, even though he is wearing a ski sweater? Perhaps the best part of this book is that it carries with it the magic of Christmas: the unexpected, the warmth, the wonder. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In Jay's jewel-toned, folk art like paintings incorporating scenes from familiar carols, Bible passages, and secular Santa lore, two children travel to the North Pole, meet Santa, and return home, where objects seen on their journey appear as toys under the tree. Sharp-eyed viewers will find much to enjoy throughout. An appended key identifies specific pictorial references to Christmas songs.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
Jay's signature style of painting with muted, antique colors and a crackled-varnish effect is showcased exquisitely in this deceptively simple tour de force filled with tiny, hidden surprises to delight inquisitive readers. The storyline sends a brother and sister pair creeping downstairs on Christmas Eve and venturing outside to meet Santa Claus. He whisks them off in his sleigh to the North Pole, where they sit down to supper with Mrs. Claus before touring the toy workshop. A Christmas angel flies the children back home, where the story ends on Christmas morning. Each page shows one view of a particular item or scene with just one or two words of description, and every illustration includes an element from the previous page and one from the following page. Sometimes these links are easy to spot, and sometimes difficult, such as Santa's shadow or the holly print on wrapping paper. Cleverly hidden with the illustrations are miniature vignettes or characters from 17 holiday songs, with a key to the locations on the final page. The Christmas season is full of magical surprises, and Jay's absorbing creation conveys that sense of magic, from the tiny sleeping mouse on the first page to the snowman peeking in the window on Christmas morning. (Picture book. 2-7) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #2

In an album of crackle-varnish paintings that suggest a bygone era, Jay (The Cloud Spinner) catalogues images seen by two children on a fantastical Christmas Eve journey. While not a creature is stirring, a boy and girl tiptoe from bed to greet Santa and his reindeer out on the snowy lawn. They are soon dashing with their jolly chauffeur through the night sky to the North Pole, where they are welcomed by Mrs. Claus and the elves before an angel escorts them home. Each page features a softly lit scene inspired by an evocative word--"carolers," "snowman," "workshop." Attentive readers can also try to find clues in the illustrations that link the pictures to favorite Christmas carols. Ages 2-6. Agent: The Organisation. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

PreS-K--In this large, gorgeous picture book, Jay uses her signature primitive, crackle-varnish style to illustrate a variety of Christmas scenes. Each page contains a single word or phrase with no other description: "Christmas Eve," "mistletoe," "mittens," "candle," "holiday card," "stocking"… to "Christmas Day." A cat and dog and two children pop in and out of the pictures and readers discover at the end that icons from various Christmas songs have been included in the images. Thus they are encouraged to go back and find them… if they care to bother. The art is no doubt charming, but the story is very thin indeed.--Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library

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