Editorial Review

A Review of "Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story" in School Library Journal

Cover: Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story

A talented but easily frustrated young man is transformed by the encouragement and belief of the right mentor. Like many boys, Cuthbert is impatient, lacks discipline, and doesn’t like making mistakes. After his annoyed father sends him to a monastery, he ends up in the scriptorium, where he earns the name “Smudge” for his poor skills. When he is mistakenly assigned to do the lettering for the Christmas story, everyone is sent into a tizzy except for master illuminator Brother Bede, who sees some talent in the boy and takes the time to encourage him to practice. Eventually the two create a masterpiece. Whelan’s prose makes the long blocks of text flow like water and includes fun details (like the monks taking their yearly bath in preparation for Easter). Costanza’s illustrations have the look and feel of animated movie art, which adds humor to what is essentially an apprenticeship tale. A lengthy read-aloud for parent/child sharing, but one that could be inspirational for the right listener. (Grades 2-5)

—Mara Alpert

Products Reviewed

Title   ATOS Format Qty
Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story 4.9
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