An overcrowded, uneven package.

READ REVIEW

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

From the Flowerpot Holiday series

The complete text of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” delivered on board pages.

The poem is as jaunty as ever, but it’s not natural fare for board-book readers due to its length. On average, three stanzas appear per double-page spread; they are set mostly in white type that floats over the dark, nighttime scenes. Cutting’s modeled, cartoony art is an uneven mix. Some images, such as St. Nick’s face and beard, are quite detailed—indeed, his wrinkles and smile are often eerily unchanging from page to page, suggesting a cut-and-paste job—but both the first-person narrator of the poem and the reindeer appear blurry. Many of the scenes feel too crowded for the format, especially the double-page spread showing and naming the eight reindeer, who are sandwiched together in a foreshortened string, making them difficult to identify and count. At times the art defies logic—readers will wonder why this family would leave candles burning on their Christmas tree after they had gone to bed. At other times, it does not completely reflect the text; Santa looks a little too clean after he comes down the chimney despite the text’s explicit “ashes and soot.” Human characters all present white.

An overcrowded, uneven package. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1774-3

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households.

LATKE, THE LUCKY DOG

A rescued dog chosen as a Hanukkah present at an animal shelter relates his good luck as he learns to adapt to his new family and home.

Zoe and Zach welcome their new pet, a playful, medium-sized, golden-brown dog, and name him Latke (he’s exactly the color of one). The newest member of the family assumes all the celebratory aspects of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday are just for him and innocently creates a mild disturbance on each night. Latke eats the sufganiyot and latkes, rips open presents, chews up the dreidels and candles, slobbers all over the chocolate gelt and knocks the bowl of applesauce over. With each mishap, Zoe and Zach find a way to forgive, letting the curious new dog know he is very fortunate indeed. Ever remorseful, Latke finally accepts his own gift of a chew toy and understands he is one lucky dog to be part of a great family. Latke relates his own story, folding his innocent misdeeds into the basic structure of the eight nights of remembrance. Simple, childlike gouache scenes favor the star of the story, a sweet and personable mutt sporting floppy black ears against a brown happy face. He has rather more personality than the overall presentation, which cannot shed its inherent didacticism.

Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9038-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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