A thoughtful story with a highly unusual take on Santa as a larger-than-life character, for environmentally minded...

ELLIOT'S ARCTIC SURPRISE

While enjoying a beach vacation with his parents, redheaded Elliot finds a bottle with a note inside from Santa asking for help from children to save the Arctic, Santa’s home at the North Pole, and the Christmas holiday.

Elliot asks his preoccupied parents for permission to go to the North Pole, and in fairy-tale fashion, a kindly sea captain with a sailboat appears out of nowhere to whisk Elliot on a longed-for adventure. When they arrive at the Arctic, they find a flotilla of colorful sailboats filled with ethnically diverse children. Led by Elliot, the children confront the men at the huge oil rig and convince then to stop drilling and go home. Elliot’s sea-captain friend then takes off his yellow rain slicker, revealing his true identity as Santa himself. The simple plot works as a sort of environmental fairy tale, and the concept of thousands of children solving a major world issue themselves is a delightful (although sadly improbable) one. Bold illustrations in acrylics and colored pencil are attention-grabbing, with bright colors and sweeping Arctic vistas. The controversial issue of oil drilling in the Arctic is a complex one, but this works as a first introduction for young children to a troubling problem. A closing note on environmental issues in the Arctic is included.

A thoughtful story with a highly unusual take on Santa as a larger-than-life character, for environmentally minded households. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-741-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween.

PUMPKIN MAGIC

Magical moonbeams awaken a pumpkin patch to raucous Halloween-season revelry.

A moonbeam illuminates and energizes a smiley-faced pumpkin sitting alone on a stair; it promptly takes off to find a friend with whom to have a good time. An entire pumpkin patch, also sparked by the magical moon, instantly comes alive. And what merriment all the grinning gourds get up to! Their playful shenanigans include piling high on top of one another, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing, marching, and drumming, wearing costumes, and competing in games. They even engage in activities usually reserved for other holiday-themed icons—flying on brooms and making magic, for instance. As dawn approaches, the pumpkin leader escorts the cavalcade back home. At sunrise, each one takes up residence on a different house’s front porch and awaits that evening’s moonbeams to work their magic again. Liveliness and good cheer abound in this frisky rhyming tale in which the perennial holiday symbols naturally take center stage. Perky couplets that read and scan very well appear on most pages and are accompanied by energetic, expressive illustrations that highlight vivid oranges, yellows, blues, purples, and greens with touches of other bright shades.

Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-56332-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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