A sweetly empathetic, child-friendly girl-girl romance.

LOVE, VIOLET

Violet only has eyes for one other child in her class: Mira.

Violet longs to spend her days dreaming and adventuring with Mira. But whenever Mira comes close, Violet panics and is unable to speak. In the winter, Violet gets an idea: If she can’t express her feelings in words, maybe she can express them through art. She decides to make Mira an extra-special valentine, covering it with glitter and signing it, “Love, Violet.” On Valentine’s Day, she tucks the paper heart under her lucky cowboy hat and plucks up her courage. But no amount of preparation or lucky charms can protect Violet from what happens next. After bumping into Mira, Violet trips and falls, and the whole class laughs at her. At recess, her hat flies away, leaving the valentine she made soaked with snow. It takes all Violet’s courage and resilience to pick herself up, dust herself off, and express her feelings—but when she does, the results are more wonderful than her wildest dreams. The book’s text is action-packed and heartfelt, capturing the juddering rhythms of Violet’s nervousness, and the watercolor illustrations are suffused with emotion, detail, and movement. The gentle, child-friendly romance at the heart of the story is a perfect celebration of courage and queerness, and earnest, awkward Violet is a protagonist every reader will root for. Violet presents White, and Mira has brown skin.

A sweetly empathetic, child-friendly girl-girl romance. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31372-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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Extremely simple and rather sweet.

BULLDOZER'S CHRISTMAS DIG

From the Bulldozer series

Bulldozer is worried about what to give his friends for Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Dump Truck is carrying, Digger Truck is stringing, and Crane Truck is lifting—all in service of decorating for Christmas. But Bulldozer is on the side, surrounded by cats, worrying. He has not a single gift for his friends. What can he do? He sees a tire half buried in the snow and wonders what other treasures might be there. He starts to dig, and he hits something…but it turns out to be junk. He keeps on digging and finds something else: “more junk.” He keeps digging and digging. The piles grow larger, the sky gets darker, and Bulldozer’s hope fades. But then he thinks he sees something through the snow. He pokes the pile of junk this way and that. He adds bits and pieces. As his friends call out to him that it’s quitting time, Bulldozer puts last touches on his gift. He moves aside to reveal his creation to his friends, and all are pleased with the gift. The little yellow Bulldozer with his entourage of animal friends is a likable character whose plight children will relate to and whose noncommercial solution is a model for creative youngsters to take as inspiration. Best for wrapping a message of giving within a truck-loving package full of sound effects. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Extremely simple and rather sweet. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3820-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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