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From the Stories From the Music Box series

No batteries needed, but it’s a stale nonstarter in every other way.

Thanks to a windup mechanism, Moore’s holiday poem gets a jingly “Deck the Halls” for accompaniment.

To go with the Christmas chestnut, Martin goes for a relentlessly classic look with Victorian-style interiors, a tubby White Santa in a red suit, White parents in full nightclothes (one holding a lit candle as she bends over her sleeping urchin), and old-fashioned toys scattered all about. In a cutout corner a small lever is labeled with an invitation to “Wind and Play!”—which is easier said than done, as the interior spring is thick enough to give even Superman trouble getting past five or six turns. The tinkly version of the carol also leaves out the musical repetition of the first two lines, so singing along is out, and since it only runs about 20 seconds at full speed (slowing down as the spring unwinds), it has plenty of time to become monotonous over the three or so minutes it takes to read the verses aloud. The music-box mechanism is housed in a one-inch-thick box affixed to the back cover that makes the flimsy pages of the actual book feel like an afterthought. Still, parents seeking some gift that doesn’t have a screen or require batteries may see some appeal.

No batteries needed, but it’s a stale nonstarter in every other way. (Holiday novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5490-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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