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From the Abrams Trail Tale series

The text bogs down the otherwise engaging and cheerful illustrations.

This lift-the-page and -flap board book sees two children travel to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve.

After receiving an invitation, the children travel on a sled pulled by a husky through snowy forests and across the ice. After the tour of the famous toy workshop, they head home in Santa’s sleigh. The text plods along slowly, generally with only a phrase or one word on a two-page layout. This story is actually one very long sentence, with limited punctuation, which makes it very difficult to read aloud and doesn’t allow readers much time to observe each illustration and flap without losing the thread of the narrative. This is unfortunate given that the images are charming, from the wide-eyed deer of the forest to busy elves in the workshop. The differences between the scenes of the quiet, snowy journey and the bustling production line are a nice visual reminder that the holiday season can be both a serene and a busy time of year. Still, the art can’t quite make up for issues with the writing. The two featured children have brown skin and black hair, Santa Claus is brown-skinned while Mrs. Claus is light-skinned, and the elves vary in skin tone.

The text bogs down the otherwise engaging and cheerful illustrations. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3154-9

Page Count: 54

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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