This fresh take on an old text is worth checking out.

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

An old Christmas poem is paired with Mr. Boddington’s distinctive illustration style.

Linear brush strokes, multiple patterns, flat perspectives, and blocks of pink distinguish the illustrations accompanying this rendition of the familiar Christmas chestnut. The text of the poem is set in couplets against bubbles or solid background colors. Busy pictures show a brown-skinned family sleeping inside a multistory residence set in a small, Christmas-themed village, with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer riding above. Elves with various skin tones and hair textures assist Santa, who is White, with the deliveries. Going down the chimney and inside the narrator’s home, the elves explore playfully while Santa finds a moment to sit, smoking his pipe and reading the newspaper. The perspective of the spreads resembles a view into a dollhouse. Santa’s list of major cities to visit includes Nairobi, Rio, Istanbul, Tokyo, and Mumbai, among other destinations, but the names on his list of “nice” children (and pets) are noticeably and disappointingly not nearly so international in character. Text within the illustrations adds details to the story, including a nod to Jean-Michel Basquiat on the family’s kitchen bulletin board. Santa’s sleigh takes off into the star-studded night sky above a zoo filled with active animals in the middle of the red and green town. This unexpected combination of old poetry with a modern artistic style will find an enthusiastic audience in Mr. Boddington’s existing fans and may win the design studio new ones as well. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This fresh take on an old text is worth checking out. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-38407-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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