Ho-ho-ho’s from the goo-goo-gah-ers.


Silly Mustache Baby (and Santa Baby) holiday fun.

In this fourth book about Mustache Baby (aka Baby Billy), his pal Baby Javier transforms into Santa Baby when his facial hair (he was born with a full beard) turns white. This makes him “Santa’s #1 helper, Santa Baby!” Wanting to get in on the action, Baby Billy offers to help by making toys. Unfortunately, he likes his creations so much that he ends up hoarding them and earning a spot on the naughty list. His mustache transforms into a handlebar-style, or “BAD GUY MUSTACHE”—a somewhat fuller version of the one Snidely Whiplash sports in Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Santa Baby is so angry at his friend’s greed that his beard turns into a “MAD GUY BEARD,” and he “saddle[s] up the reindeer” (depicted as dachshunds) to pursue Baby Billy and recover the treats he’s stolen. A misaimed snowball hits one of the “reindeer,” which prompts the pair of babies to reconcile and care for the pup. Santa Grownup sees their compassionate deeds and rewards them with a trip in his sleigh “to help deliver presents all over the world”—but only after twice checking his list to find that “Billy had made it onto the nice list by a hair!” of course. Throughout, readers are gifted with other examples of wordplay and with comical details in the digital art. Illustrations depict Baby Billy and Santa Grownup as white; Baby Javier is presumably Latinx.

Ho-ho-ho’s from the goo-goo-gah-ers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-50653-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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. 2, 2021

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