A heartwarming story and a nice addition to a child’s social-emotional library.

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In DaVeiga’s picture book, a porcupine doctor and his neighbors must collaborate to help someone who’s hurting.

Dr. Pete the Porcupine regularly provides potions and hugs to locals, including Jake the Snake, Sting the Scorpion, Rhoda the Roadrunner, and Liz the Lizard. One day, Jake, Sting, Rhoda, and Liz all complain about mean Cactus Jack, who constantly insults passersby; they hope that Dr. Pete’s potions might help. After the entire group gives Cactus Jack an examination, three potions, Heart Hurt Healing Jelly, and a hug, he apologizes for hurting people’s feelings. The text and illustrations work in tandem to enhance the desert theme with unusual animal types. Warm, background earth tones contrast with cooler character colors. Peres’ full-color cartoon illustrations also effectively establish the passage of time and present facial expressions that are easy to understand. Dr. Pete is a wise, gentle protagonist with quills that present like a lion’s mane. On occasion, the crowded illustrations slightly obscure the text. The story’s themes—bullying, prickly behavior, and helping others—will make for an engaging read for youngsters. The alliteration adds some fun, and the characters’ prickliness provides a bit of humor.

A heartwarming story and a nice addition to a child’s social-emotional library.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-958050-00-2

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Waterhole Productions LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2022


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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