Those who never tire of the iconic text will delight in this classy interpretation.

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

The classic Christmas poem is set to old-fashioned illustrations.

A snow-covered village in tones of blue, with snow still falling, warm yellow lights glowing, and smoke drifting from brick chimneys, centers a snowman smiling up to the sky, where a reindeer’s antler pokes onto the page. Each spread illustrates a set of rhyming verses set against a white background: the mice sleeping, the stockings hung by the chimney, the children and mamma, all White, asleep in bed. When “out on the lawn / there arose such a clatter,” a person in a nightcap runs to the window, then gapes out at the magical reindeer-led sleigh several houses away, lit with small dots of yellow in the blue-toned snowy night. A close-up of the reindeer in midair and an active Santa (also White) driving them gives way to a bird’s-eye view of the reindeer landing on the rooftop of the narrator’s brick residence. For four spreads, St. Nicholas is in the house, stuffing stockings, smoking his pipe, and winking at the narrator. As he flies off with a trail of golden sparkling light, his call of “Happy Christmas to all, / and to all a good night!” is set in large italic type, and the narrator stands outside with a candle, waving. For those who love the poem’s old-fashioned feeling, these illustrations perfectly match the magical, nostalgic tone of the text.

Those who never tire of the iconic text will delight in this classy interpretation. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2285-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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