Readers will revel in the alliterative names and twisted phrases but the enjoyment will be superficial unless they can figure out that the “ceanut pups” are the “peanut cups,” and other such treats are turned “wackbards” by Merlin’s spell. Martin and Sampson, who have recently collaborated on several titles (I Pledge Allegiance, above, etc.), tell of a young boy going trick-or-treating in his apartment building. On each floor, a costumed resident gives him a treat, until he reaches the apartment of Magic Merlin, who gives him a trick instead of a treat. Back down the boy goes, this time collecting a wacky trick instead. “Belly Jeans” replace the “Jelly Beans.” “Stocolate Chicks” come in place of “Chocolate Sticks,” and so on until the boy returns to his own apartment with a bag full of puppies, cars, and chickens and then his father’s hug breaks the spell. The realistic watercolors depict neighbors in silly Halloween costumes and images of spiders and pumpkins on sweaters and ties. The story itself, though, is a somewhat confusing gimmick that may defy comprehension by primary-aged readers and will not interest most of the older readers, who will see through its contrived story line and all-too-convenient conclusion. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84968-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A shaggy-dog tale about the journey of the biggest Christmas tree on the lot to Geraldine's home. Brother Willie helps, but the evergreen still needs to be trimmed down considerably during their arduous trip, as friendly shopkeepers shorten the trunk and prune out the top to make the tree more portable. It's still too large for the living room; the top is bent over by the ceiling—a silly touch, but at least Geraldine can place the star on it without help. In guileless illustrations and text, Keller (Geraldine First, 1996, etc.) accurately targets toddlers' tastes, but among holiday tales, this one is more heart than plot, and may be overshadowed by flashier Santas, Grinches, and reindeers with red noses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-14500-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution.



On the first night of Sukkot, Daniel is apprehensive about sleeping in the dark sukkah without a night light.

Older sister Naomi likes to show off her knowledge acquired in Hebrew school, so she tells Daniel all about the holiday. She explains how Jews remember the ancestors’ journey from Egypt, why the sukkah is built, and the reason for an open roof made of tree branches. Once the building and decorating of their sukkah is finished, Daniel’s quiet anxiety parallels Naomi’s eager excitement through the family’s outdoor dinner. At bedtime, the siblings create a makeshift sleeping area in a corner of the sukkah. In the dark, scary nighttime noises and shadowy images disturb Daniel to the point where he begins to go inside. But to his surprise, Naomi, who has a touch of the heebie-jeebies herself, encourages him to stay and look up through the branches of the sukkah’s open roof. He sees a sky full of stars, or “night lights,” as they glowed for the ancestors thousands of years ago. Soft paintings provide a contemporary view of a White Jewish family with some parallel historical scenes of the forbearers making their way through the desert. The interwoven explanation of the holiday within the context of the story is enhanced with an afterword that references today’s refugees, who must live under precarious circumstances in temporary shelters.

A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-547-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet