A well-told, warmhearted story that underlines how a town can work together on a common goal.

SANTA'S GIFT

In this picture book based on true events, a community’s landmark Santa Claus statue is renovated and restored.

For many years, families in Evansville, Indiana, knew they were getting close to home when they could see a roadway Santa Claus statue: “And in the darkened distance, / stands an image in the light. / We see his mitten waving, / up ahead, a welcome sight!” Throughout the year, his statue—one arm raised in a friendly greeting—could be seen hailing passersby. But over time, the statue became less jolly, getting cracked, faded, and worn. Then it disappeared, abandoned in a junkyard. But in 2016, the community came together to have the statue repaired and repainted, adding a time capsule with photos, letters, and other relics from locals. Now Santa stands and waves year-round again. A supplementary section explains, with photographs, how the real-life rescue came about, helping to fill out the story. Angie Karcher (The Legendary R.A. “Cowboy” Jones, 2014, etc.) has a good ear for meter and rhyme, and the story of loss and restoration is an appealing one for children who celebrate Christmas and love Santa. The illustrations, by debut illustrator Dana Karcher, are also attractive, with their soft colors and well-rendered details, although it’s unclear at first whether Santa is flat or 3-D. It’s possible that not everyone appreciates a 35-foot statue of Santa through all seasons of the year, but the book takes for granted that it’s beloved.

A well-told, warmhearted story that underlines how a town can work together on a common goal.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945306-66-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: M.T. Publishing Company, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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