Estela and her Christmas Sandwich Catastrophe aims to teach young readers how to put a positive spin on things they don’t like.
Estela, a moose of indeterminate age (her mother packs her lunch, which would indicate she is still a child, but she also remembers scenes from her “childhood,” indicating she is a grown woman), is devastated when she discovers her mother has packed her a sandwich for lunch. Although her mother’s sandwich-making skills are renowned throughout the neighborhood, Estela thinks all sandwiches are boring; finding one in her bag causes her to remember the many times she’s hidden them under furniture to avoid eating them.
As she sits contemplating this, a heart-shaped ornament falls off a nearby Christmas tree. Estela decides to use the ornament like a cookie cutter to transform her sandwich into a heart. The festive take on her least favorite food causes her to find a new appreciation for it.
The book features endearing illustrations and a likable character, but the fact that many children enjoy sandwiches may make this story’s premise difficult for some young readers to relate to. Because of this, the book would have benefitted from additional examples of reimagining things until they become more appealing. The story also juxtaposes Estela’s sandwich woes against the backdrop of construction workers putting up a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression. This element diffuses the story’s focus, and young readers aren’t likely to relate to the time period.
Additionally, the sections of text are fairly dense for a picture book, and accidental tense changes and grammar and punctuation mistakes detract from the story, as well as contribute to this indecipherable line: “The neighborhood moose would describe her mom sandwiches as the President Moo Obama’s speech of all sandwiches.”
While Estela and her Christmas Sandwich Catastrophe has good intentions, a thoughtful revision would help the story better achieve its aims.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.