MEERKAT Christmas from Emily Gravett


Meerkat Christmas from Emily Gravett
*with 7 Festive Flaps*
Review Copy from Simon & Schuster
Every book from Emily Gravett is a gift, but Meerkat Christmas is especially so! I have long been a fan of Gravett's, so read through to the end of this review for more about her work. Meerkat Mail, published in America in 2007, finds Sunny, a meerkat in the Kalahari Desert, needing a break from playing, eating, sleeping and working together every day with his huge, happy family ("Stay safe, stay together") so he heads off to visit relatives, sending postcards (REAL postcards that actually flip open for added reading) along the way. Now, it's nearly Christmas in the Kalahari and everyone is busy decorating the cacti (with snakes and bugs...) and cooking - except Sunny. The latest edition of PERFECT Magazine (the first flap to lift, letting readers see what Sunny sees) sends Sunny packing again, looking for the five elements needed to ensure a "perfect" Christmas: Perfect weather (snow), tree (tastefully decorated), presents (piles), dinner (must include "well-boiled [Brussels] sprouts), and music (Christmas carols, of course). Sunny's journey takes him all over, with each stop giving readers a holiday card Sunny sends home to his family to lift and read. The contents of each card add to Sunny's story, as he shares his experiences with his family - along with ticks on his perfect Christmas checklist. Each stop gives Sunny something close to, but not quite perfect. Eating boiled Brussels sprouts in a cozy, wonderfully decorated (human) home, Sunny ticks all the boxes, but something still isn't right... Happily, Santa knows how to fix that.

I love Gravett's illustration style, which is a mix of charcoal pencil and watercolors with a collage element that adds texture, dimension and richness. Her storytelling - visual and text - is expansive, filling up the endpapers and even extending to the dust jacket and book case. To this, Gravett brings superbly designed interactive elements to this and many of her other picture books. And, as much as I love this about her work, my all-time favorite is a book that she created as an assignment while still a student at university - Orange Pear Apple Bear. With just four words, rearranged with each page turn, and simply gorgeous, fluid watercolors, Gravett draws you in and brings you joy.

More by Emily Gravett

                    The Imaginary

                              Matilda's Cat

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