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A CHRISTMAS FOR BEAR

From the Bear and Mouse Adventures series

Another appealing adventure for this delightful duo, just right for a Christmas Eve storytime, perhaps enjoyed with a plate...

In their sixth adventure together, best friends Bear and Mouse celebrate Christmas with pickles, a poem, and presents.

Bear invites Mouse to their first-ever Christmas party, although Bear knows only what he’s read about how Christmas is celebrated. He announces that eating pickles and “reading a long and difficult poem” (“A Visit from St. Nicholas”) should be enough for their party, but Mouse is most interested in the possibility of presents. Grumpy Bear pretends to reject the notion: “Monstrous assumption!” Ever hopeful, Mouse repeatedly escapes from Bear to search the house for gifts, finally locating his Christmas stocking with a tiny telescope tucked inside. Taking the telescope outside to view the night sky leads to a search for Bear’s present, a huge sled that Mouse has somehow hidden under a snow-covered tree. In a satisfying conclusion, Bear and Mouse gleefully sled down a hill “under the shining stars of Christmas.” Bear’s curmudgeonly personality and Mouse’s cheerful antics provide droll humor conveyed with polished comedic pacing and clever phrases such as “a mournful bite of pickle.” Soft-focus illustrations in watercolor, ink, and gouache are particularly strong in the subtle expressions on the animal faces as well as in meeting the design challenge of including a huge bear and a tiny mouse in one environment.

Another appealing adventure for this delightful duo, just right for a Christmas Eve storytime, perhaps enjoyed with a plate of pickles. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4923-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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