From the If Animals Kissed Good Night series

A cute introduction to Halloween for youngsters.

We’ve seen how Paul and Walker’s adorable animals celebrate Thanksgiving; what about Halloween?

All the Halloween check boxes are ticked for the littlest listeners, and Paul zooms in on Mama and little Owlet at they complete each one: carving pumpkins, decorating, donning costumes, and trick-or-treating. Interspersed among these, other animals join in on the festivities. Bat adds fangs to her pumpkin, and “Hatchling would beg Papa Crocodile / to carve his pumpkin a sneee-eery smile.” (Cleverly, their pumpkin croc features an oblong pumpkin carved sideways with successively smaller pumpkins for the body.) Bushes and trees get festooned with spiderwebs and orange-and-black steamers, and, somewhat disturbingly, “Vulture chicks would scat-scatter fresh skeleton bones / close to a cluster of old tombstones.” Costumes include the traditional (superhero, mummy, witch) as well as some creative twists (Zebra Foal wears “a costume of spots” that resembles a giraffe’s hide; Little Leopard dons a striped costume). Treats match the giver: Parrot gives seeds, Armadillo passes out chocolate ants, and Raccoon offers “garbage-fudge squares.” Page turns and line breaks sometimes interrupt the rhythm of the verses, though the rhymes are pretty spot-on. Walker’s scenes start during the day and gradually fade to night, when the illustrations almost seem to glow, gentle stars in the sky shining down, and the shared book at the close is the ideal end to a busy day.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute introduction to Halloween for youngsters. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38852-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022


Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021


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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