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*Melrose & Croc: A Christmas to Remember* by Emma Chichester Clark


Melrose & Croc: A Christmas to Remember
by Emma Chichester Clark
Ages 4-8 32 pages Walker Books for Young Readers October 2006 Hardcover    

Emma Chichester Clark tells a sweet holiday tale of companionship found in Melrose & Croc: A Christmas to Remember. Melrose, a yellow dog, and Croc, a (of course) crocodile, are both newcomers to the city as Christmas celebrations near culmination, and both feel the melancholy unique to being in a new place at what should be the most wonderful time of the year.

Croc is drawn to the unfamiliar city by an advertisement heralding "Come and meet SANTA CLAUS at Sax and Dale's! Make your dreams come true!" But after an excited, sleepless night waiting for the new day, Croc's dreams are dashed when the department store manager tells him that Santa was there the week before but is gone now; it is Christmas Eve.

Melrose begins hanging festive decorations about his new apartment but leaves the task unfinished in a fit of sadness over not having anyone to share them with. He drives his long red car around town, wishing for a way to cheer up - and for a friend.

Both lonely animals forget their woes when they discover a skating rink bathed in lovely music. Whirling, twirling, gliding, sliding, they zigzag faster and faster until they CRASH into each other. As they lament their situations over a shared pot of tea, the answer to their problems is obvious. They will share their Christmas with each other, their dreams coming true at last in the sweet warmth of friendship found and destiny fulfilled.

The British-born Clark (who studied for three years under illustrative great Quentin Blake) puts her pencil and concentrated watercolor dyes to extraordinary use in her whimsical  illustrations of times gone by, showing Melrose and Croc in predestined proximity several times amid scores of holiday-busy people (they are the only anthropomorphic animals in a sea of humanity). This is a lovely book for a family to cherish during the holidays and all year round.

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  Sharon Schulz-Elsing/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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