Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift is another of Max Lucado's books in the "Wemmicks" series.
It is "Maker-day" in Wemmicksville, which looks a lot like Christmas. Red and green lights are everywhere, bows and wreaths decorate buildings, and snow blankets the town. Everyone is going out of their way to show Eli, their maker, thanks for creating them. Hans the Baker creates a seven layer cake, Violet the flower lady makes an enormous wreath, Dr. Marvel plays a special song on his amazing new instrument, and Lucia is busy directing the Maker-day concert, "the most important part of Maker-day," she says. Punchinello is concerned, though. He can't make fancy cakes or wreaths. What can he do for Eli? He made up a song for Eli, but no one seemed to notice it. What could he give that would be worthy?
But Dr. Marvel needs a helper to run his magnificent new instrument; he chooses Puncinello. Unfortunately, the instrument blows apart, mid-performance, wrecking Violet's beautiful wreath and Hans' special cake. The celebration is ruined. After the commotion is over, there is silence. Then Punchinello begins to softly sing his song. Soon, the other Wemmicks join in. The book ends: "As Eli listened from his home on the hill he said, 'What a most marvelous song! It's a most marvelous gift!'"
What I Like: The illustrations, which look like computer animation, are bold, and almost 3-D like. The text, adapted by Karen Hill and based on Lucado's characters, is simple. It hints at meaning, but doesn't hit readers over the head with it. And in the bustle of Christmastime, it's important to remember what the day is really about: God. Too, sometimes the best gifts are the most simple and humble ones. After reading this book, and with a parent's help, even small children will understand this message clearly.
What I Dislike: The story seems a little bit derivative of How the Grinch Stole Chirstmas, but not in such a large way that it spoils the book.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: 2 - 7.
Publishing Info: Tommy Nelson, 2004; ISBN: 1400304490; board book, $8.99.