This sweet story is sadly underbaked.

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. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019


Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022


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

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