One Christmas Mystery

Tiger Tales. Sept. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781680102598.
PreS–Butler and Macnaughton’s familiar group of woodland friends return for yet another Christmas. But the decorations have disappeared from the forest! “There’s not a holly berry in sight!” Rabbit, Fox, Badger, and Little Hedgehog trek out into the snow, searching for any adornment to capture the holiday spirit. Reenter Little Hedgehog’s knitted red hat, which he insists on using to collect what few trimmings they find. Gigantic footprints in the snow lead the band to a place in the forest they’ve never been before—a mysterious cave. Overcoming their initial alarm, a mother bear and her cub are invited to join the company for Baby Bear’s first Christmas. Roaring fires and cozy dens juxtapose the wintry, wooded surroundings. As in previous outings, the illustrations are soft and feathery. The anthropomorphic demeanors of the forest creatures are benevolent but incongruous. Fox’s face palm is particularly off-putting and unsuitable for the picturesque harken-back setting. The storytelling is dry, and the dialog is stiff. Additionally, there is an awkward discrepancy in the tale where Rabbit moans about there being zero berries, but Badger picks a few berries “anyway.”
VERDICT Strictly for fans of the series, who will find exactly what they expect and little else.

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