A pleasant but forgettable effort.

WHEN, WHEN, WHEN WILL IT BE CHRISTMAS?

A slight, rather confusing Christmas story about a group of children in costume performing a Christmas pageant.

The first few pages show groups of animals engaged in different activities to prepare for Christmas. Tiny red birds decorate a huge, red bow with sprigs of holly, and mice in pink tutus cut snowflakes out of paper and then frost a white cake with mouse snowmen on top. Six striped cats frolic through a forest together and select a Christmas tree, reindeer hang Christmas lights, and a group of rabbits wraps lots of presents. Then the action abruptly shifts to a Christmas pageant, with costumed children who are dressed as the animals from the previous pages. The children all sleep in their own beds (shown all in a long row) for Christmas Eve night, then reappear in costume to celebrate on Christmas Day. The text relies on repeated adjectives, the titular refrain, and lots of jolly language and exclamation marks, but there isn’t much of a plot. The illustrations in acrylic paints are appealing, with a cast of multiethnic children and clever details in costumes and the group bedtime scene. There are some logical lapses between art and text, as in the illustration of pink-clad gray mice facing text that describes “white, white mice” and another that fails to depict rabbits in the pageant cast.

A pleasant but forgettable effort. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-907152-27-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boxer Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable

PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE

A mouse searches for and finally finds her missing Seder plate.

Pippa is an industrious house-cleaning mouse. And no wonder—Passover is starting this very evening. Dusting and sweeping finished, she turns her attention to setting the table as a pot of chicken stew bubbles away on the stovetop. But there is one very important object that is missing: the “special Seder plate.” Frantically, the mouse searches through boxes and cupboards and finally ventures into the yard. First she encounters a very large cat and asks if it has seen the plate. “No,” answers the cat and points her to a snake, who sends her to an owl, who directs her to Golda Fish, prettily swimming in the water. Success! Kirkfield’s little tale is written in rhyming couplets with much repetition of “QUIVER! QUAVER! SHIVER! SHAKE!” for emphasis with each interaction with a predator, so readers will be mightily puzzled when the formerly frightful critters join Pippa at the holiday table. Weber’s gouache, crayon, and collage illustrations are sweetly pretty. The final illustration features a Seder plate with transliterated Hebrew and an English translation of the components. Readers familiar with the holiday may find this mildly enjoyable, but others will likely want and need more information.

In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4162-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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