Sarah's Stars

Janet Lunn. One Hundred Shining Candles
Tundra $19.99  ISBN 978-0-88776-889-7  26 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

In the schoolmaster's house, the children were listening, spellbound. The schoolmaster was talking about Christmas. Lucy had stopped listening. For the first time in her ten-year-old life, Lucy, with her tight black braids and her neatly tucked-in collar, was lost in a dream.

Somewhere deep in the northern forests of Canada, way back in the 1800s, a little girl named Lucy lived with her Ma and Pa and her little brother, Dan. Christmas is on its way and even though the family does not have much money to buy lavish gifts and create a mouth-watering feast, the tight-knit clan is still looking forward to their fresh-baked loaf of special white bread for the holidays. But when the schoolmaster spins an extravagant tale about Christmas in the city, Lucy hatches a plan. One hundred shining candles all lit around the room with a soft, happy glow. Is it possible? Oh how that would make Ma and Pa so proud! Unfortunately, in the deep woods, candles are hard to come by. But, with a little luck and some help from Dan, perhaps the two children might be able to make Christmas time that much more unforgettable.

From the very first sentence of One Hundred Shining Candles the reader is drawn into a cozy world reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. In fact I noticed a few similarities but the intended audience of readers, ages 5-8, probably won't have read those books. And even if they have, One Hundred Shining Candles is a picture book whereas Laura's memoirs are chapter novels. One thing I did like a lot about this book was the atmosphere. I could almost smell the fresh pine boughs hanging from the eaves and feel the warm glow of the fire in the hearth. The pictures have a hometown, organic look to them, especially in the depictions of the snowy forest and the snug log cabin. While the large amount of text may prove daunting for younger readers, competent ones will feel quite at ease within the pages of the book. The story itself was a treat too and the happy ending will satiate the reader's appetite for a happy holiday tale.

Perfect for frigid December days, I give Janet Lunn's One Hundred Shining Candles four out of five stars.

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