Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review - The Magic Christmas Ornament

The Magic Christmas Ornament
by James Barbato & Victoria Barbato
illustrated by Joe Huffman
Date: 2019
Publisher: Pure Imagination Enterprises, LLC
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Christmas Eve is a dazzling, special time...especially when your family's favorite Christmas tree ornament has magic powers! On one enchanted Christmas Eve, Victoria, Joseph, and John gather around the fireplace to hear their father’s story about this favorite Christmas ornament. After their parents go to bed, the children discover the true magic of the ornament as it sweeps them from their home and directly into Santa’s workshop!

On this adventure, they are instantly surrounded by toys, reindeer, and even see Santa himself. Amidst the magic and wonder of this night, the children meet a very special elf named JJ who, as it turns out, is more connected to their family’s history than they could ever have imagined….

Accompanying The Magic Christmas Ornament is the same beloved ornament from the book (for ages 5 and up) to fill your home with the magic of Christmas. This modern Christmas classic will inspire new traditions and help you escape into a world of holiday magic!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Through the story their father had passed down to them, the kids now understood the magic of Christmas.

Well, that's good. At least somebody understands.

This book, intended to be a new Christmas classic (perhaps that's the first problem right there; if you're writing a book with the intention for it to be famous, rather than just wanting to tell a good story, the results might not be that great) is about three children who get whisked away to Santa's workshop by a magical Christmas ornament from their tree.

I don't like the illustrations (which appear to be photographic collages that were digitized to make them look painted), but even so, it irks me when the illustrator isn't given credit. His name only appears in small print on the copyright page. I don't know why this seems to be a convention in self-published picture books, but I think it's rather disrespectful. Anyway, as I said, I don't like the illustrations. They're a bit creepy. JJ is supposed to be a "young boy", but he looks about 30 in some of the illustrations. And the rigid gender stereotypes in Santa's workshop are a little off-putting; Victoria is shown playing with dolls and teddy bears, while her brothers get the cool toys like train sets and robots.

The story itself is just confusing. I'm not sure what the overall message is supposed to be. There are hints of something going on with the kids' dad, but I'm still not sure of the significance of the ornament or how it works.

The writing itself is technically strong, which is probably the best thing about this book. However, getting all the commas and verbs in the right places doesn't necessarily make for a good story.

The note at the end keeps referring to the book as a classic, but... come on. That's not up to the authors. It's up to the readers. Whether this book will become a classic or not remains to be seen... but with a price tag of $44.95, I kind of doubt it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Pure Imagination Enterprises, LLC for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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