by Paul R. Hewlett
Pat Sauber, cover
Paul R. Hewlett, publisher
. . (no illustrations)
Back Cover: “Have you ever wanted something you couldn’t have? Meet Lionel, a loveable bully-magnet who desperately wants a new sled and will do anything to get it. Follow Lionel from Larrystown to the North Pole. His magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot is back and is as unpredictable as ever. Whether Lionel’s sledding, ice skating, or in a life-sized gingerbread village, it takes him on some grand adventures.”
Opening: “Christmas break had arrived and Lionel Snodgrass was headed to pick-up his best buddy, Skip, to head for The Hills. The snowflakes, large and wet, fell straight down from the sky.”
Ah, Christmas vacation, the best time of the year. No school, lots of snow, and Skip. Lionel was happy. Well, almost. One thing would make this Christmas perfect for Lionel: a “Turbo 500” red snow sled. He had been hinting to his mom for some time, but this morning, all she did was laugh. It is no wonder he likes going to Skip’s house. Mr. and Mrs. Cottingham think of Lionel as a son. They invited him over Christmas Eve for a night full of Christmas activities. They even want to get him a gift. Lionel also likes Carrie. For two years, since the day Carrie moved to Larrystown, Lionel has had a crush on her. If he could only talk to her.
Though he knew better, Lionel asked the Cottinghams for the Turbo 500 sled. They had asked what he would like as a Christmas gift and he blurted it out. Maybe Santa would bring it for him was all Mrs. Cottingham could say. Anyone who has read any other of Lionel’s adventures will be happy to know his “Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun” is still sending Lionel on unexpected journeys, like the one in the girl’s bathroom—when Carrie walks in.
Lionel seems to be a good kid, but the Turbo 500 is sadly out of his reach. The more he realizes this, the more depressed he gets and the less he wants to spread cheer at some dumb hospital or a stranger’s house. Since running into trouble at the Gingerbread Village, Lionel’s spirits have taken a major fall. He made a fool of himself in front of Carrie and now feels like no one cares. Lionel pulls out the Walbaun and makes one last wish.
Lionel has more going for him, but in true kid fashion, he does not see it. Mr. Hewlett has built a well-defined character. Lionel’s actions and thoughts are typical boy. Even the crush on Carrie—now in its second year—and Lionel is still the only one who knows it exists. He is terrified to tell her, while badly wanting Carrie to know.
There are no illustrations in Lionel’s Christmas Adventure and that is a shame. On the cover, Lionel is a chubby young boy with round glasses, and though he has his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, he is still cute. Lionel smiling must be a rather charming picture (one Carrie might not be able to resist). So much of this story would be great illustrated as a graphic novel as it would a middle grade.
Lionel’s Christmas Adventure is an easy read. I read it in one sitting, but would not recommend this. The story is best savored, as are most stories. With six chapters, Lionel’s story makes a good bedtime story. Easily completed in one week, and with short chapters that will not keep kids up late (or parents), but long enough to satisfy a child, making Lionel’s Christmas Adventure a perfect bedtime story. To finish the story on Christmas Eve start reading on December 19th.
Lionel’s Christmas Adventure is a great book for boys but girls will also like Lionel. In future adventures I hope to meet his mother and brother. The Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot needs to help those relationships. There is only one scene with Lionel’s mom and brother Feeney, but there are many story possibilities there that seem exciting. The same applies to Skip’s parents, who did not have much money for Christmas, and I actually thought they might be secretly poor.
Lionel’s Christmas Adventure will speak to kids who are obsessed over one item to the exclusion of everything else. It is as if Lionel believes his life depends upon this sled, which it does not. Tell that to a ten, eleven, or twelve-year-old who only wants the newest game system, for example, and he will agree. This early chapter book is a great selection for reluctant readers and definitely boys in general. Parents will like the story for its messages: regardless of how bad your situation may be, there is someone worse off; Christmas is a time to give, not to receive (though that is okay); and many of us already have what we want most, which is usually family and friends. Merry Christmas, Lionel Snodgrass.
Guest post by Paul R. Hewlett, Children and the Library, can be read HERE.
Paul R. Hewlett, publisher
Released January 2012
Age 6 to 10
LIONEL’S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE: LIONEL LEARNS THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. Text copyright © 2012 by Paul R. Hewlett. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Paul R. Hewlett.
More of Lionel Snodgrass
.Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule
.Lionel Turns the Other Cheek
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*reviewed on Kid Lit Reviews and received 6 stars