Immi's Gift, written and illustrated by Karin Littlewood, Peachtree, $15.95, ages 4-8, 32 pages. In a frozen white world, an Inuit girl casts her fishing pole into an icy hole and pulls out magical treasures tossed into the surf by a boy faraway. First, she lands a wooden bird, then a red flower, orange starfish and green leaf, and soon her igloo is trimmed with tropical wonders every color of the rainbow. Polar bears, Arctic foxes and hares, a seal, a wolf, a walrus and magpies flock to her happy home and share stories, making Immi's world a brighter, more joyful place. Then as spring comes and the igloo melts, Immi drops her polar bear necklace into the hole as a thank you to the boy she never met. Touching and spare, Immi's Gift is a gift in itself, and makes you want to craft a garland of your own from nature's flotsam.
Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas, by Julia Rawlinson, pictures by Tiphanie Beeke, Greenwillow Books, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. A little fox with a big heart inspires his woodland friends to help a family of rabbits in need in this adorable third picture book in the Fletcher series. While bouncing through the forest, Fletcher is struck with a terrible thought, that Santa Claus won't be able to find his rabbit friends' new burrow, so he begins to lay sticks from one burrow to the next to point the way. As he scuttles back and forth, other animals scamper over and fly down to help, first a squirrel, then a flock birds and a family of mice. All lend a paw or a wing, and just as the sun slips out of sight, they arrive at the rabbits' new burrow. Delighted by their kindness, the rabbits invite them in to thaw out their noses, nibble on pie and sing carols. But as the merriment grows, snow begins to fall and soon very stick is covered. Blinking back tears, Fletcher turns to his rabbit friends and wonders, "What will happen to your presents now?" But Fletcher has an idea. He and his friends will stay awake all night so that when Santa comes to their homes, they can point the way. But cozy and warm in their beds, each drift off to sleep. Does Santa need a trail after all? Rawlinson's words patter on the page like delicate steps. Listen in as she sets the scene for the story: "Every tree in the forest was frost-sprinkled and sparkling, and frozen puddles creaked and crackled under Fletcher's paws." And later, "Fat white flakes tumbled softly from a heavy sky. They landed light and whisper quiet on the frozen ground."