The pride of mastering skills through practice comes through in this affectionate holiday story.


A little girl’s dreidel must learn how to spin properly in time for Hanukkah in this children’s picture book.

Rebecca, a little girl with dark hair and pale skin, decides that with Hanukkah coming up, she’ll practice spinning her four favorite dreidels, each named after one of the Hebrew letters painted on their four sides: Harry Hey, Neil Nun, Gail Gimmel, and Sheila Shin. The first three of these special dreidels can whirl a long time, but Sheila just falls over immediately. At night, the dreidels practice spinning, encouraging Sheila when she falls. When the others go to sleep, Sheila keeps practicing. Though Sheila is nervous, all four dreidels dance beautifully when the time comes. The story itself doesn’t give background for the holiday, but a final section—“Let’s Learn About Hanukkah”—provides information about its origin and customs, including how to play with dreidels. Sachs (Dear Dragon Master, 2013, etc.) mirrors a child’s excitement about an upcoming holiday in the dreidels’ anticipation, both pleased and nervous, over their magical dance performance. Children can sometimes feel as if they’re being put on show during big family gatherings, so they also can relate to Sheila’s nerves and to the reassurance that’s found in the other dreidels’ kindness, plus the family warmth centered on a delicious holiday meal. The full-page illustrations by Krebs (Me & Him, 2014, etc.) are charmingly colorful and expressive. 

The pride of mastering skills through practice comes through in this affectionate holiday story.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9796380-4-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Three Wishes Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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