Bring this one ho-ho-home.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A visual treatment of an old poem that’s both nostalgic and fresh.

The cover art focuses on St. Nick driving his airborne sleigh against the full moon. Flying reindeer pulling the sleigh break the cover’s right edge, leading into the book. The illustrations’ soft style establishes an old-fashioned look. Long’s central artistic conceit is revealed at the bottom of the picture, where he establishes four settings that Santa visits: a cityscape, a farm, a trailer park, and a palm-tree–dotted neighborhood. It’s refreshing to see artistic acknowledgement of Christmastime outside of snowy, rural, Rockwellian settings, and the endpapers show characters to be as diverse as their homes: an interracial sibling pair decorates a tree; a child who appears Black drafts a letter to Santa; two brown-skinned children draw a large fireplace scene; and three White-appearing children, one using a wheelchair, make cookies. The “right jolly old elf” himself is decidedly elfin, with a diminutive stature, and presents White with a ruddy complexion. In keeping with other versions, parents are depicted as the “I” of the text, and Long maintains his commitment to inclusion and diversity in their characterization as he switches among settings to show them encountering Santa. These shifts don’t follow a rigid sequence, and seasonal details in décor (several crèche scenes, stockings, trees, and even a menorah on the mantelpiece in the evidently bicultural urban home) offer additional visual interest.

Bring this one ho-ho-home. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286946-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more