Hello, Tree

little bee. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781499812589.
K-Gr 2–Fox is up to no good. He bops around town nabbing holiday items, including a Christmas tree, a wreath, and candy canes. After using the plunder to decorate his home, Fox tops off the evening by eating cookies left out for Santa. The story’s simple, holiday-themed rhymes stand in stark contrast to Fox’s misdeeds: “Hello, bells. Hello, bow. Hello, kissy mistletoe!” reads one jaunty spread. The accompanying comic-style, three-panel illustration presents a less joyous scene with Fox grabbing musical instruments from a confused pig and monkey and plucking a jeweled pin off the hat of an unsuspecting bear. An angry Santa arrives down the chimney, leaving a cloud of ash in his wake. The wordless spread that follows retraces Fox’s steps as Santa makes him return each item. But is he truly sorry? Did Fox learn a lesson? That seems unlikely. After pelting him with a snowball, his friends stand at the doorway with a tree from Santa. A jolly party begins, but Fox, shown in an inset, winks at the reader as he holds onto the purloined jeweled pin. His apparent delight in having pulled a fast one on Santa and his friends feels out of sync in a holiday-themed story.
VERDICT Fox’s misdeeds and lack of remorse send a discordant holiday message that may confuse young readers.

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