THE GREAT SANTA STAKEOUT

Sure to be caught under many a tree.

Can Santa’s biggest fan snap the ultimate selfie?

Freddy Melcher (who has light skin and brown hair and eyes and whose surname is a clever variant of the Wise Man moniker, Melchior) could be Santa's biggest fan. All year long, he celebrates the jolly old elf and collects all things St. Nick. As Christmas Eve approaches, Freddy is determined to capture a photo “with Santa, fresh out of the chimney.” He devises a four-step plan involving a rooftop trap and goes to bed determined to stay awake and meet his idol—but, alas, sleep takes hold. A sudden “CRASH!” awakens Freddy, who sees “something big [roll] right off the roof.” Is Santa hurt? Poor Freddy dashes outside, fearing the worst, only to find a Santa lawn ornament headfirst in the snow, with a note attached reading, “NICE TRY, FREDDY! —SANTA.” Santat cleverly depicts this note viewed from Freddy’s perspective, which aligns readers with the protagonist and hides his reaction—for the moment. A page-turn reveals that Freddy feels “FANTASTIC,” because “while other kids nestled all snug in their beds, Freddy had played hide-and-seek with his hero!” Never mind a happy ending, this is a downright jolly one—merry, even. Santat’s multimedia art elevates Bird’s joyful, playful text to holiday picture-book excellence, his use of chiaroscuro especially masterful in the nighttime scenes.

Sure to be caught under many a tree. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16998-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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