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HOW TO HAUNT A HOUSE

Not-too-spooky Halloween fun.

Three ghosts-in-training meet a family that proves difficult to scare.

Groana, Moana, and Shrieky have successfully used their ghostly tricks to haunt families in two different houses. But when their teacher, Madam Grey, assigns them a family of monsters to haunt, they must get creative with their tactics. Readers will giggle to see what ultimately frightens these Frankenstein-type monsters: bunnies, puppies, glitter, and cupcakes. Crimi’s rhyming story nicely leverages unpredictability to keep preschoolers engaged. How silly that the things they love should terrify a monster! Miller’s illustrations are age appropriate and appealing—nothing’s too spooky here—with a comic-book feel. The three ghosties are nonthreatening, with rosy cheeks and expressive eyebrows. The humans depicted are racially diverse, including one interracial family. There are also some fun details, like the monster family’s table full of rotten fish and moldy cheese. Miller cleverly uses the color palette so that the hues of the human families’ homes, with touches of pink and light blue, are the same as those of the cheerful items used to scare the monster family. Sure to be enjoyed by the preschool crowd—a great Halloween read-aloud for a classroom or library.

Not-too-spooky Halloween fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3426-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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OTTO THE ORNAMENT

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story.

A glitzy ornament searches for a tree worthy of him but finds his real place where he least expects it.

“Merry Christmas, bulbs and baubles! I’m Otto! I’m here to bedeck the heck out of your tree!” And “bedeck the heck” he tries! When Otto is told there’s space for him in the middle of the tree, he scoffs—only the top will do for an ornament like him. After he mocks his fellow ornaments, they refuse to make room for him, so he heads out to look for a new place to shine. He takes a scarring tumble down into the sewer, where he encounters an unlikely precious item. Returning with his find, Otto no longer sparkles but still manages to shine at home on the tree. This is a well-paced, appealing tale that will make for a great preschool read-aloud come December. Arrogant Otto has a satisfying redemptive arc that will resonate with readers. The dialogue and wordplay are pitch-perfect, bringing the characters to life. A mix of cartoonish vignettes and full-page spreads effectively depicts action and movement. Otto is multicolored and patterned with big eyes and a winning grin; the other ornaments on the tree also have personalities that match their styles. The few humans who appear are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593481202

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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