A UNICORN NAMED SPARKLE'S FIRST CHRISTMAS

From the Unicorn Named Sparkle series

Merry and bright.

The joy of giving permeates Lucy’s first Christmas with her unicorn in this series third after A New Friend for Sparkle (2017).

Sparkle is back and is still more goatlike than equine, but little Lucy thinks he’s just perfect. She’s excited to teach him all about Christmas and explains that “best of all, it means Christmas PRESENTS! Lots and lots of PRESENTS!” Lucy gives Sparkle an allowance and her wish list so he can get gifts for her, and then she heads off to buy him presents. Readers are privy to the little unicorn’s failure to follow through on the task and then to how Lucy tirelessly gives him the benefit of the doubt. But when Sparkle knocks over the Christmas tree and eats the stockings, Lucy loses her temper. Her outburst makes Sparkle cry “big, magical rainbow unicorn tears.” Lucy feels terrible and apologizes, acknowledging that Sparkle “didn’t mean to hurt [her] feelings.” And then, lo and behold, there is a gift under the tree from Sparkle—a tiny golden box that on a wordless spread opens to release a rainbow and a flight of butterflies, birds, and (of course) sparkles and hearts. Readers will flip back to the vignettes that depict Sparkle failing to shop and reassess their lack of faith. Lucy is a little girl of color with light brown skin and springy black hair.

Merry and bright. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30813-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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