Despite the book’s treatment of relative size, it is a lovely Christmas tale focusing on the simple joys of the season; the...

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PIP THE GNOME AND THE CHRISTMAS TREE

A gnome works with three forest critters to gather some DIY Christmas ornaments.

Pip, a pale-skinned gnome, has an apple; a European robin provides “soft woollen thread”; a rabbit brings “golden straw”; and a mouse retrieves a rosehip from its mouse hole. Pip realizes that their pine tree needs one last thing and fetches a candle from his house. Kwant’s art is the star of this simple story. Rendered in what looks to be soft colored pencil or oil pastels, the scenes beautifully evoke the playful joy of decorating a tree. Pip is especially endearing, with his apple-doll face, Santa-red hat, and apple-green suit. Not knowing the average height of gnomes, toddlers may be confused by the scale of this book. The apple appears to be the size of a pumpkin, the tree is a hand taller than Pip, and the rabbit is only a head taller than the mouse.

Despite the book’s treatment of relative size, it is a lovely Christmas tale focusing on the simple joys of the season; the holiday’s commercial aspects are refreshingly absent. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78250-328-6

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This holiday ditty misses too many beats.

THE ITSY BITSY PILGRIM

From the Itsy Bitsy series

The traditional story of the first Thanksgiving is set to the tune of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and stars rodents instead of humans.

The titular itsy-bitsy Pilgrim, a mouse dressed in iconic Puritan garb, sails to “a home that’s new” with three other mice on the Mayflower. They build a house, shovel snow, and greet some “itsy bitsy new friends,” who are chipmunks dressed as Native Americans complete with feathered headbands, beaded necklaces, and leather clothing. While Rescek’s art is droll and lively, it is wildly idealized, and the Native Americans’ clothing does not reflect what is understood of Wampanoag attire. The companion title, The Itsy Bitsy Reindeer, presents equally buoyant scenes. The reindeer and several elves, who appear to be white children with pointed ears, help Santa (also white) prepare for his annual sleigh-ride delivery. In both books, would-be singers may struggle to fit all the words and syllables into the meter, and a couple of rhymes are extremely forced (“shop” and “job”?).

This holiday ditty misses too many beats. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6852-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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