Zimmerman, Michelle. A Family For Christmas. Illustrations licensed by Fotolia. Book Review.

The first two illustrations are three-dimensional digital renditions of an adorable puppy. Then we have a cartoon illustration, a drawing colored in shades of pink. The rest of the book is three-dimensional digital illustrations similar to the first ones of the puppy. Why the drawing of a woman and her poodle, in a completely different style, was inserted in the middle is a mystery to me. These are obviously illustrations taken from a site and not made specifically for the book. Most illustrations were quite bare.

As a picture book, the text is far, far too wordy. It may have suited a magazine. Much of the text is unnecessary and should be weeded out. The author would do well to research appropriate word counts for picture books.
One place to cut is unnecessary adverbs and explanations. For example, “The puppy wagged its tail excitedly.” Excitedly is unnecessary. “Alex raised his eyebrows quizzically.” Quizzically is unnecessary. “His mother’s mouth fell open in surprise.” In surprise is unnecessary. Writers need to limit, possibly even completely eliminate, adverbs and let the verbs speak for themselves.

The story itself is predictable and needs more suspense and originality. As well, the last two or three pages could be cut completely. We only need one instance of the puppy and Alex being happy together to understand that this turned into a wonderful Christmas after all.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages