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

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

From the Stories From the Music Box series

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. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

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. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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