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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Nick and his Uncle Kris have finished their annual trip around the world distributing gifts to all the good children. Young Nick is very excited that the night is over and they can return to the North Pole and enjoy the holly-day after celebrations. That’s when all the elves have their traditional celebration. It begins with the elves competing for the best pancake sculpture – yes, they build their sculptures using freshly made pancakes. The winning entry this year is a full replica of the community of North Pole – all made with pancakes! When family and friends arrive, there’s good food, good cheer, and lots of good stories to share to make it a festive occasion. But the biggest tradition, the one Nick enjoys the most, is going outside to plant the future holly-day after trees. After all, “This is what the day was all about. Time spent together and time giving back.”
Danielle Marietta’s picture book story, The Holly-day After, is a charming story about Christmas celebrations at the North Pole. The plot begins with the last gifts tucked into children’s stockings and Nick and his Uncle Kris’s trip home on Santa’s sleigh. The festive nature of the storytelling blends together with good cheer and lots of excitement. The author cleverly parallels North Pole traditions with what the rest of the world must do for their celebrations, the message being quite clear that Christmas, and the holly-day after, are days of gathering with friends and family and the joy of giving rather than receiving. That’s how traditions originate, after all. With a few quotes borrowed from the famous poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, this is a wonderful feel-good Christmas story that will warm the hearts of young and old alike. Beautifully told and illustrated.