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UNDER-THE-SEA SEDER

Marine fun and fantasy make for a magical Passover celebration.

During a seder, a young Jewish girl gets antsy.

Miri is too noisy, and her parents don’t like the way she “slurp[s] down her grape juice” or “crunche[s] on a matzah.” She and Abby, her cat, find a way to flee the boring, long meal. They hide under the table, where a fish embroidered on the tablecloth seemingly comes to life, sea plants grow, and a seder submarine carries the pair under the sea. They find themselves at a seder attended by three wildly colored sea monsters, complete with a seder plate containing symbolic holiday foods. Everyone comes together to celebrate, the creatures, Abby, and Miri speaking, respectively, Sea Monster, Cat, and Hebrew (all translated into English in footnotes) and the others listening as Miri begins the four questions. They then leave the table for dancing. But Miri hears her parents calling, so she and Abby return to the sub and head home in time for Miri to sing seder songs and dance with her family. With overtones of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963), this read-aloud brings a creative element to the holiday. The humorous, vibrant illustrations depict most human characters as light-skinned, though one guest has dark brown skin. The author provides useful ideas for actively involving children in the holiday. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Marine fun and fantasy make for a magical Passover celebration. (note to families) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781681155944

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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OTTO THE ORNAMENT

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story.

A glitzy ornament searches for a tree worthy of him but finds his real place where he least expects it.

“Merry Christmas, bulbs and baubles! I’m Otto! I’m here to bedeck the heck out of your tree!” And “bedeck the heck” he tries! When Otto is told there’s space for him in the middle of the tree, he scoffs—only the top will do for an ornament like him. After he mocks his fellow ornaments, they refuse to make room for him, so he heads out to look for a new place to shine. He takes a scarring tumble down into the sewer, where he encounters an unlikely precious item. Returning with his find, Otto no longer sparkles but still manages to shine at home on the tree. This is a well-paced, appealing tale that will make for a great preschool read-aloud come December. Arrogant Otto has a satisfying redemptive arc that will resonate with readers. The dialogue and wordplay are pitch-perfect, bringing the characters to life. A mix of cartoonish vignettes and full-page spreads effectively depicts action and movement. Otto is multicolored and patterned with big eyes and a winning grin; the other ornaments on the tree also have personalities that match their styles. The few humans who appear are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593481202

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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