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Eric Kimmel and THE SPIDER'S GIFT: A UKRAINIAN CHRISTMAS STORY

In Eric Kimmel's lovely seasonal picture book, The Spider's Gift (Holiday House, 2010), Katrusya's family is so poor, they can't afford Christmas this year. But they must have at least a tree, the Ukrainian girl pleads. Deep in the forest, she chooses the perfect evergreen, which the family carries home and humbly adorns with old buttons and a paper star. But they soon realize the tree is crawling with baby spiders!

Katrusya knows the tiny creatures will die outside in the snow and begs her mother to keep the tree. When the family returns from church on Christmas Eve, the buttons have turned to gold coins and the spiders' webs to sparkling silver! Katrusya's clan shares their miraculous bounty – the spiders' repayment for the family's kindness – with the entire village.

The Spider's Gift is the latest of Kimmel's myriad folktale retellings, which have earned him such coveted awards as the Caldecott Honor Medal and the Sydney Taylor Picture Book Award. In my December children's market column at Authorlink.com, Kimmel shares how he creates his popular retellings, his thoughts on the changing economics of the kidlit publishing world, and much more.

Be sure to check out Kimmel's website, as well, at www.ericakimmel.com.