Elli & Gabe's Big Christmas Adventure
by Gabriel S. Newberry
Trafford Publishing

"I am so glad to see you both. I've lost my sack of presents. Without it, Christmas will be ruined. Will you help me find it?"

For many children in the world Christmas is their favorite time of the year. Although the traditions surrounding the holiday season vary widely, family, special foods, presents, and a festive atmosphere almost always play key parts in making the celebration memorable. Yet despite their enjoyment of the day itself, some children feel frustrated and marginalized when they see older people involved in preparing for the big event and they are left on the sidelines. This was the situation facing Elli and Gabe until one Christmas Eve night when Santa showed up needing their help.

Written and illustrated by the author when he was 11 years old, this short by entertaining tale is a testament to youthful creativity. The storyline is simple, straightforward, and true to the feelings of kids at the age level of the two main characters. The grammar and vocabulary of the text is also consistent with how an 11-year-old might tell a story and avoids the stylistic errors of many adult writers who attempt to use the narrative voice of a child in their fiction. But possibly the greatest charm to the book lies in its pictures. Newberry appears to have used an assortment of colored markers to illustrate his story in the manner of countless other school-age children, but his sense of composition seems to be more developed than most. Additionally, he incorporates a definite sense of place in the book, showing his readers that the story is set in Philadelphia through his drawings and text while never actually mentioning the city by name. Currently an 8th grader, Newberry dreams of a career in art and business. Penning a book of this quality at such a young age indicates that he may have a very good shot at his goal.

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