A nonsensical title and premise, frenetic illustrations, and butt jokes do not add up to a noteworthy Christmas story.

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE CHRISTMAS!

Santa’s head elf, Wink Silverbells, gathers all the items from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” so Santa can give them to Mrs. Claus as her Christmas gifts.

Wink, a boy elf with light skin and dark hair, serves as the first-person narrator, with his dialogue displayed in blue speech balloons. He finds the list of the unusual Christmas items in Santa’s office, including the words, “My true love gave to me…” and assumes that Santa needs to acquire these things as gifts for Mrs. Claus. The elf asks readers to help, a conceit intended to encourage participation later with whistling, honking like geese, and dancing. The concluding dance party finds Wink urging the readers to “Wiggle that butt!” and “Wilder! Crazier! More butt wiggling!” These comments are illustrated with a view of Wink from the rear holding up his tunic to display his candy-striped tights. Other cheap, above-children’s-heads moments include the comment, “What the elf?” and Wink’s assertion that the word “yes” in French is “wee.” Cartoon-style illustrations are humorous but very busy, including both male and female elves and several characters with brown skin tones; Santa is white. He explains to Wink that he doesn’t need all the items from the song for Mrs. Claus because he already bought her a vacuum. What the elf, Santa? Mrs. Claus deserves better.

A nonsensical title and premise, frenetic illustrations, and butt jokes do not add up to a noteworthy Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4136-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along.

THE CRAYONS TRICK OR TREAT

The Crayons return in time for Halloween as vampire-costumed Purple coaches the dressed-up wax pack through its first trick-or-treating venture.

It takes five houses’ worth of door-knocks for this skeleton crew of seven to perfect the protocol, with enough outlandish flubs to generate giggles in Halloween-savvy preschoolers. At Door No. 1, Orange, dressed as a jack-o’-lantern, says, “Give us your candy, Lady.” At the next, the gang, encouraged by Purple to “think holiday,” responds with an impressive array of misguided greetings, including “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy American Cheese Month!” Later, White, levitating impressively in a ghost costume, overreacts to Halloween’s “scary” aspect by overwhelming residents with a “BOO!” Peach, unnamed here but recognizably wrapperless from the initial title, exuberantly (and inappropriately) repeats, “I’m naked!” Finally, the troupe perfects its treat-inducing line, though a certain ghost cannot resist an ad lib. This excursion, like many of the holiday-themed Crayon books, has a smaller trim size, a lower price point, and far less complexity than Daywalt and Jeffers’ first two Crayon titles. Still, the pair deftly let young children in on the jokes through funny, hand-lettered dialogue and the visually telegraphed, all-in haplessness of this well-branded band. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-62102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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