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*It's Christmas* by Tina Burke
Also by Tina Burke:

Sophie's Big Bed (Toddler Tales)
It's Christmas
by Tina Burke
Ages 4-8 32 pages Kane/Miller August 2007 Hardcover    

Who among us grew up reading the lovely illustrated books of Joan Walsh Anglund? Those picture books captured the sweet innocence of early childhood and focused it through the eyes of an adoring adult who revealed without dismantling that magical time. Now Joan Walsh Anglund has a worthy successor in Tina Burke, author and illustrator of It's Christmas (Kane/Miller Book Publishers).

Burke’s biography cites her training at the Walt Disney Animation Studio in Sydney, where she studied anatomy, movement and life drawing, among other disciplines. Surprisingly, no reference to an abiding love for Anglund’s books—but Burke clearly shares Anglund’s gift for portraying the sparkle and simplicity of childhood that we like to remember. Happily for readers, she returned from animation to what she has called her “first dream”—creating picture books.

The children peopling the pages of It's Christmas are cherubic, fresh-faced and slightly rounded, with wide-mouthed smiles that sing and shout in anticipation of Christmas Day. Burke’s attention to detail is a pleasure to behold: seasonal motifs that appear as wingdings at the bottoms of pages show up elsewhere as elements in full-page scenes. Her drawings portray the bursting exuberance of young children, captured in poses such as singing, sitting confidently (or squalling) in Santa’s lap, licking a wooden spoon, and taping up a special Christmas masterpiece. The children are nicely assorted in their ethnicity, too.

This book fits somewhere outside of the Read-Aloud and Early Reader categories. Printed words are few and large in type size but challenging for early readers (decorations, memento), better suited to parent or grandparent readings while children look at the illustrations. With its lushly colored matte hardbound cover and vibrant red endpapers, this book fairly leaps into the hands of readers.

At 30 pages, It's Christmas makes a nice read for bed- or naptime; the gentle excitement it engenders will likely keep children asking for it long after the tree is taken down and the decorations packed away for another year.

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  Erica Jeffrey/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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