A Christmas tree-t.

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE FIR TREE

A Christmas story about gratitude, adapted from a Hans Christian Andersen tale.

The eponymous little fir tree is discontented in the forest, especially when it sees other, bigger trees being cut down to build cabins and ships. People and animals alike praise the tree for its beauty, but it remains dissatisfied. Then the tree is cut down, and it goes to a home where people (all of whom appear white in the naïve illustrations) decorate it for Christmas. Here, the tree feels proud and wishes the woodland animals could see it. It also enjoys listening to a story—a moment that offers readers an intertextual reference to “The Snow Queen.” But when the decorations are removed, the fir tree doesn’t understand that it’ll be taken outside and put into a shed the next day. This fate brings sadness again, but the tree is eventually gladdened when children return it out-of-doors. Its limbs lacking the needles it once had, the tree glories in the fresh air and sunshine, seemingly happy to be outside. Where the original story ends dismally for the tree, Corr is kinder, building in a subtle circle-of-life arc. The final sentence notes that a squirrel’s larder, which presumably includes the fir tree’s cones, allows a new tree to grow. Throughout, opaque, daub-y paintings with a folk-art sensibility enliven the storytelling but do little to expand on the details of the text.

A Christmas tree-t. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-662-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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