One Christmas in Our Building: A Very Merry Mystery

Floris. Sept. 2023. 36p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781782508618.
PreS-Gr 4–Emma wakes in high spirits on Christmas Eve. As her dad and stepmom bicker over holiday preparations, she stays good-humored, even when the oversized turkey that is too big for the refrigerator is stolen from right outside their apartment door. The adults insist on getting it back, question their neighbors, and search in vain to buy a replacement. All the stores are closed, and Emma observes they are “like Mary and Joseph, being turned away from every inn.” At this, they laughingly agree to return to their “stable.” The doorbell rings when they start eating. Neighbors arrive with food, and all join in their holiday celebration. When the Singh family from the second floor arrives with lamb curry, Emma jokes, “Maybe some shepherds have come to visit our stable.” When she opens the door to the Wilson-Kings and their handmade cake, Emma shouts, “Two kings are here!” Lastly, white-haired Mrs. Angel, who lives on the first floor, arrives with cookies. The artwork, sketched in pencils and colored with digital brushes, adds interesting details and clues to the mystery of the stolen turkey. Sharp-eyed readers will guess the culprit: the mysterious neighbor from the top floor who rushes up and down stairs without speaking to anyone. The motive remains ambiguous, but in the end, the turkey theft is forgotten as neighbors become friends in a joyous celebration of holiday cheer and goodwill to all.
VERDICT In this well-crafted Christmas tale translated from German, traditional aspects blend seamlessly with a welcome message of goodwill and inclusion.

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