Not an exceptional edition of the poem but an accessible one.

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This import from Great Britain features an extra-large format and sweet, soft-focus illustrations in a cheery interpretation of the favorite Christmas poem.

Instead of the father of the family waking up to meet Santa, this version finds a young boy awakened by the clatter out on the lawn. The boy, Sam, gets up with his teddy bear “to see what was the matter,” while the parents remain “nestled all snug” in their own bed. Sam creeps downstairs in blue-striped pajamas, and there he spies Santa passing out toys and presents. This twist of the narrator from father to child gives the story freshness and immediacy for children. The illustrations are greeting-card pretty, with a contemporary palette including lavender and lime green. This Santa is on the short side, befitting the “jolly old elf” of the text, and his smiling demeanor wouldn’t give a spying child anything at all to dread. He is shown on the cover in his sleigh, his team of reindeer in flight along a path of sparkly stars that indicate their magical power. This is a serviceable edition of the time-tested Christmas classic, with pages of sturdy, coated paper that will stand up to heavy use. The illustration style is simple enough to use this as a first introduction to the story for young preschoolers.

Not an exceptional edition of the poem but an accessible one. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58925-198-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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