This stowaway is here to stay as a new Christmas classic.



A larger-than-life cat’s face with glowing, green eyes peeks out of a red sack on the cover of this story about a stowaway in Santa’s sleigh, with those compelling eyes silently begging the reader to open the cover.

The appealing feline star of the story is a calico cat named Slipper. She hears footsteps in “the darkest hour of the night,” and in a stunning double-page spread, a nearly life-sized Slipper stalks the dark house ready to pounce. She finds that the source of the noise is Mr. Furry Boots, a familiar figure in a red suit and black boots trimmed with fluffy, white fur. Slipper slyly slips into Santa’s sack and is inadvertently taken back to his house at the North Pole. In a clever play on words, Santa’s wife, Ms. Furry Boots, shakes out the almost-empty toy sack: “And she let the cat out of the bag!” (Mr. and Ms. Furry Boots are both white.) Slipper is soon homesick and sets off into the dark to try to find her way home. In a touching rescue, Santa finds the sad cat sitting in the sleigh and kindly flies her in first-class fashion back to her own house on Christmas night. Exceptionally striking illustrations use unusual perspectives and dramatic pacing, with the dark, nighttime settings skillfully creating suspense and mood. A subtle focus on feet includes the cat’s name, Santa’s boots, several pairs of elf feet in pointed shoes bedecked with bells, and a pair of furry red slippers that make Slipper the cat long for home. The succinct, perfectly paced text makes every carefully chosen word count.

This stowaway is here to stay as a new Christmas classic. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-48174-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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