“A Rescue Ranch Christmas” by Mark Albini is a tale that will leave readers full of holiday cheer. Albini weaves together a story about a group of farm animals who eagerly await Santa Claus’s arrival on Christmas Eve. In the beginning, you can see Bobo the mouse watching his twins sleep. When he heard a noise outside, Bobo hurried over to investigate, “But then I saw Jimmy, Howie, and Freida the Fish. They were singing a carol with a new Christmas wish. The music was magic with their faces aglow. And the ranch seemed so peaceful all covered in snow.” As the animals at the Rescue Ranch gathered together, they couldn’t contain their excitement. They were dreaming of the moment when they would see Santa ride his sleigh across the sky. Suddenly, an elf-like figure darted out from the shadows and ran toward the twins! The animals were stunned. Who was this mysterious visitor, and what did they have to do with the magic of Christmas?
This story is written in rhyme and poetic language. The illustrations, which feature colorful hand-drawn animals, add a delightful touch to the pages. What sets this book apart is the author’s attention to detail. Each animal is given a unique personality, and the reader gets a sense of each character’s individuality—Tommy the Tiger checked the Rescue Ranch map; Daisy and Darla took their Christmas Eve nap; Gary and Freddie joined Phillip the Frog, who walked up from the lake to see Henry the Hog. The author also creates a setting that makes the Rescue Ranch a place any reader would want to visit. Finally, the book’s theme is executed with descriptions of Christmas decorations, traditions, and festive cheer, creating a mood that captures the spirit of the holiday season.
It is a joy to read aloud, and the artwork will captivate young ones—encouraging them to embrace kindness and compassion towards animals and humans alike. It’s a story that will leave you with the hope of making a positive difference in your community. Highly recommended for animal lovers and those looking for a comforting read.
– The Moving Words Review
Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024