THE CHRISTMASSY CACTUS

This succulent successfully steals the spotlight from the ever-present evergreens.

Tiny Cactus eagerly anticipates Christmas—and wishes for some holiday decorations of her own.

Sitting snugly on a bookshelf, Tiny Cactus is especially treasured by her little girl. When she notices all the Christmas decorations coming out, Tiny Cactus is excited for her turn to be covered in tinsel and sparkles. Christmas Day arrives, but Tiny Cactus still doesn’t have any holiday decor. After a pep talk from her friend—an elephant-shaped teapot—and a little holiday magic, she gets some surprising trimmings of her very own. Tiny Cactus has sweetly human characteristics: pink cheeks, expressive eyes, and little legs below her flowerpot. The muted illustrations are dominated by pale grays, various shades of green, and many pops of pink. One particularly stunning image shows the Christmas tree, lights off, still glowing in the moonlight through the nearby window. Little readers will be delighted by the holiday magic and the way that Tiny Cactus ultimately gets her decorations. Evergreen trees are usually the stars of the season, but this unique cactus makes a creative focus for this story. Children will be pleased to learn that the Christmas cactus is a real houseplant; after reading this charming tale, many will be clamoring for one of their own. The little girl and her family are drawn with light brown skin and puffy dark hair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This succulent successfully steals the spotlight from the ever-present evergreens. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780063039643

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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