Overall, a warm Christmas story with jolly rhymes and happy times for both the humans and the mice who share this house.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. MOUSE

Mr. and Mrs. Mouse and their 17 children celebrate their first Christmas in their new home under the floorboards of a warm kitchen.

The husband-and-wife creators of the popular Snowmen at Night series move from snowy scenes to a cozy mouse house with a large family of anthropomorphic mice. In rhyming verse, the text describes how Mr. Mouse buys a new home for his family in a safe spot in a big house occupied by a human family getting ready for Christmas. Inspired, Mr. and Mrs. Mouse decide to provide a celebration for their family, too. With tiny items taken from the human home, the mouse parents create a decorated Christmas tree, and Mrs. Mouse sews pajamas for all the children. Santa doesn’t forget the mouse family on Christmas Eve, leaving tiny presents for all. Mark Buehner’s detail-filled paintings are great fun to peruse. Memorable illustrations include a magical scene of the mouse couple hiding in the humans’ Christmas tree and a sweeping view of the reindeer in flight as seen from above. Each illustration also contains three tiny hidden animals (a rabbit, a cat, and a Tyrannosaurus rex), which are often difficult to spot and are unnecessary to the story. A key to these hidden pictures is printed on the inside of the dust jacket.

Overall, a warm Christmas story with jolly rhymes and happy times for both the humans and the mice who share this house. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4010-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

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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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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