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

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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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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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A forgettable effort that fails to capture any of the magical charm of Santa’s story. (Picture book. 3-6)

HOW TO CATCH AN ELF

From the How to Catch… series

Wallace and Elkerton continue their series about catching elusive mythical creatures (How to Catch a Leprechaun, 2016, etc.) with this Christmas story about an elf who must avoid traps constructed by children before Santa’s annual visit.

The unnamed elf narrator is the sole helper traveling with Santa on his delivery rounds on Christmas Eve, with each house featuring a different type of trap for elves. The spunky elf avoids a mechanical “elf snatcher,” hidden in a plate of cookies, as well as simple traps made of tinsel, double-sided tape, and a cardboard box concealing a mean-looking cat. Another trap looks like a bomb hidden in a box of candy, and a complicated trap in a maze has an evil cowboy clown with a branding iron, leading to the elf’s cry, “Hey, you zapped my tushy!” The bomb trap and the branding iron seem to push the envelope of child-made inventions. The final trap is located in a family grocery store that’s booby-trapped with a “Dinner Cannon” shooting out food, including a final pizza that the elf and Santa share. The singsong, rhyming text has a forced cheeriness, full of golly-jolly-holly Christmas spirit and too many exclamation marks, as well as rhyming word pairs that miss the mark. (No, little elf-boy, “smarter” and “harder” do not rhyme.) Bold, busy illustrations in a cartoon style have a cheeky appeal with a focus on the freckle-faced white elf with auburn curls and a costume with a retro vibe. (Santa is also white.)

A forgettable effort that fails to capture any of the magical charm of Santa’s story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4631-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

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