Illustrated versions of the famous poem abound, but this rendition stands out for its large size, thoughtful design, and...

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

The classic poem about Santa’s appearance on Christmas Eve is presented in a large format with a contemporary setting and a jolly Santa sporting red, high-top sneakers.

The title of this attractive interpretation is spelled out in raised silver letters on the cover; beneath it, Santa is poised to swoop down the chimney of a comfortably middle-class white family. He is gazing out directly at readers with a wave and a grin, seeming to invite them to follow him down the chimney and into the story. He is white and wearing the familiar red, fur-trimmed suit, but this Santa has jazzy, striped gloves, those stylish, red high-tops, and an unusual patchwork sack for the toys. The atmosphere of the illustrations is dark and a little spooky, with muted lighting and mysterious, curling wisps of mist that indicate the magical nature of Santa’s journey. In the outdoor scenes, the text is set in white type, standing out against the midnight-blue evening sky. Several double-page spreads of the reindeer and sleigh in action use unusual perspectives to heighten the dramatic effect, creating a sense of speed and motion. The large trim size and dramatic pacing make this a fine choice for reading aloud to a group.

Illustrated versions of the famous poem abound, but this rendition stands out for its large size, thoughtful design, and dramatic, atmospheric illustrations. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0085-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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