On the third day of Christmas, a mademoiselle from Paris sent her true love three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.The hens never arrived . . . . Colette, Poulette, and Fifi end up delivered not to Philippe Renard, but to Phil Fox from the Bronx. Phil can't believe his luck-he hasn't had a square meal in weeks, and here's a free lunch right on his doorstep! But his plans to dine on the delectable fowl are foiled as the French hens work their Christmas magic on him, proving that the spirit of the holidays can bring the most unlikely folks together.
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*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 2. The three French hens from the familiar Christmas song are sent by a Parisian lady to her boyfriend, Philippe Renard, in New York. Alas, the hens wind up in lost mail, and when they can't find Philippe in the phone book, they think perhaps they should translate his name: Phil Fox. They find Phil Fox, but he's a downtrodden fox living in the Bronx, though he's not so low that he can't envision Colette, Poulette, and Fifi as meals. But while he plans the hens as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they act like makeover mavens from the Style Channel, giving him massages and manicures, redecorating the apartment, and fixing gourmet canapes. No, he can't eat the birds, and insists they must spend Christmas together; they demure, informing Phil that their holiday is Hanukkah. The 12 days of Christmas and the 8 nights of Hanukkah get an interfaith, interspecies celebration in a story that is so much fun, it's hard to imagine an artist milking more laughs from it than Egielski. Phil Fox's transformation from loser to a sophisticate who seems born to wear a smoking jacket is cleverly juxtaposed by the details in the room's decor--the ceiling-to-floor pipe, now painted salmon, blends beautifully into the walls. Something really fresh for the holiday season. Ilene Cooper
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