A festive holiday celebration.

Jews in Morocco celebrate the end of Passover.

Miriam and her family live in Fès in Morocco, and as Passover concludes, she and her mother walk to the house of a Muslim family for flour. Miriam meets Jasmine, a girl her own age, and watches as her mother gifts Jasmine’s mother with a jar of fig jam in exchange for a sack of flour before inviting the family to join them for the Mimouna celebration. They hurry home, where Miriam helps set a table filled with food and symbols of good fortune, such as five gold coins. The highlights of the table are the moufleta that her mother fries. The paper-thin pancakes are spread with butter and jam and are a special treat at the end of a week of eating unleavened matzo. It is also the custom for families to go from house to house partaking of festive dinners and sharing in blessings for the coming year, and Jasmine joins in. Jasmine then invites Miriam to her upcoming Ramadan party, but Miriam declines. Her family is planning to immigrate to Israel, as indeed they do. The Mimouna holiday is relatively recent, about 250 years old, and its origins are unclear. There are currently celebrations in Israel and in New York. Families unfamiliar with Mimouna will welcome the discovery. Those whose cultures involve frying bread and visiting neighbors on holidays will also find connections here. The colorful illustrations are adorned with decorative patterns, and, yum, a recipe is included. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.6-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.6% of actual size.)

A festive holiday celebration. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-397-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020


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


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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