From the How To Catch… series

Cookie-cutter predictability.

After all the daring escapes in the How To Catch… series, will the kids be able to catch Santa?

Oddly, previous installments saw the children trying (and failing) to catch an elf and a reindeer, but both are easily captured in this story. Santa, however, is slippery. Tempted but not fooled by poinsettias, a good book (attached to a slingshot armed with a teddy bear projectile), and, of course, milk and cookies, Santa foils every plan. The hero in a red suit has a job to do. Presents must be placed, and lists must be checked. He has no time for traps and foolery (except if you’re the elf, who falls for every one of them). Luckily, Santa helps the little rascal escape each time. Little is new here—the kids resort to similar snares found in previous works: netting, lures, and technological wonders such as the Santa Catcher 5000. Although the rhythm falters quite a bit (“How did we get out you ask? / It looked like we were done for. / Santa’s magic is very real, / and I cannot reveal more”), fans of the series may not mind. Santa and Christmas just might be enough to overcome the flaws. Santa and the elf are light-skinned, one of the children is brown-skinned, and the other presents as Asian. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Cookie-cutter predictability. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781728274270

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2023


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how many mediocre sequels you can squeeze out of Seussian property.

Since a reformed Grinch is hardly any fun, this follow-up Grinches him up once more.

Those seeking more of the same, prepare to receive precisely that. Christmas is coming (again!), and the Grinch can hardly wait. He’s been patient all year, and now he can finally show the Whos down in Who-ville how much he’s changed. When the Grinch learns of a tree-decorating contest, he figures that if he wins, it’ll prove he truly has the Christmas spirit. He throws himself into the task, but when it comes time to judge the trees, the Grinch is horrified to discover that he’s received only the second-place trophy. Can Cindy-Lou Who find the words to save the day? Replicating many of the original beats and wordplay of the original, this tale feels like less a sequel and more like a vaguely rewritten variation. Meanwhile, Ruiz’s art seeks to bridge the gap between the animated Chuck Jones version of the Grinch and the one depicted in the original book. This thankless task results in a strange uncanny valley between Seuss and Jones but does allow the artist a chance to colorize everything and lend some racial diversity to the Who population (Cindy-Lou is light-skinned). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how many mediocre sequels you can squeeze out of Seussian property. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593563168

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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