This sweet story is sadly underbaked.

READ REVIEW

COOKIES FOR SANTA

THE STORY OF HOW SANTA'S FAVORITE COOKIE SAVED CHRISTMAS

When Santa loses his favorite cookbook, it looks like Christmas might be cancelled.

The story is premised on the conceit that Santa’s annual Christmas preparations include making Krinkle cookies (recipe included in backmatter) for everyone at the North Pole. Alas, his heirloom cookbook with the recipe is lost, and he’s worried “everyone will be disappointed.” In an abrupt cutaway to Boston, readers meet Abigail and William, visiting the library with their mother. Unbeknownst to the precocious gourmand Abigail, the cookbook she borrows is the one Santa is missing. How it got to Boston and onto the library’s shelves is unclear, but she makes this connection when watching a television broadcast that Santa and Mrs. Claus host annually, and he sadly bemoans the loss of his cookbook. With Christmas just two days away, Abigail’s family decides they can’t get him the recipe, but they can bake cookies and enlist others’ help. America’s Test Kitchen, whose offices are conveniently just down the street, helps out—both with discerning some artfully named ingredients and soliciting viewers to also make more cookies for Santa to enjoy and share. It’s a happy ending, but Tarkela’s illustrations here and elsewhere are stiff and redundant, undermining the book’s overall success. Characters’ irises are oversized, giving them a distinctly creepy look. Santa and Mrs. Claus present white while Abigail and William seem to be biracial, with an Asian mom and white dad.

This sweet story is sadly underbaked. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7771-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa.

HOW TO CATCH SANTA

From the How To... series

The creators of the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) continue their series with this story about a brother and sister who want to capture Santa on his annual visit to their home.

The children discuss improbable ideas for spotting or catching Santa, including a complicated sequence with notes to lure Santa up to their bedroom. They wait up for Santa, and a nighttime view of Santa and the reindeer on the neighborhood’s roofs makes his arrival seem imminent. Then, in a disappointing conclusion, the children fall asleep with no sign of Santa’s arrival. In the morning it’s clear Santa has been there, as the presents are under the tree and the cookies and carrots have been eaten. There is a trail of red glitter leading to the chimney from the letter the kids sent to Santa, but that’s the only surprise this story has to offer. Readers might be expecting some sort of exciting trap for Santa or some clever way the children get to meet him or ride in his sleigh. No…just a sprinkle of red glitter. Digitally produced illustration are bright and cheery, with cute kids and amusing details, but sharp-eyed readers will notice the decorated Christmas tree in the living room is inexplicably placed in four different locations on different pages.

Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49839-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more