Some will miss seeing Santa in a traditional red suit (fur or not), but Library Mouse fans will enjoy this peripheral...

'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This interpretation of the classic Christmas story includes a few twists, such as a mouse family in the main roles, a human Santa dressed as a lumberjack, and some minor updates to the text.

Kirk is well-known for his Library Mouse series, and here he uses that expertise to create a believable mouse character and a cozy mouse house decorated for Christmas. Father Mouse wears a red nightshirt and cap, and he narrates the story just as a human father would. Santa wears a red cap with earflaps, a red buffalo plaid jacket, and tall brown boots. The text states that he was dressed “like a woodsman” rather than “all in fur.” The verse with Santa smoking his pipe is eliminated in this version, and a few lines of the traditional text are updated here and there, with “yummy treats” instead of sugarplums and no mention of “laying his finger aside of his nose.” An author’s note details the reasons for the textual changes and also explains that the mouse narrator is the father of Sam, the main character in the Library Mouse series. Clues to this relationship can be found in the illustrations, such as Sam’s stocking hanging by the fireplace in the mouse house. The illustrations are attractively composed, with textural highlights and speckles of snow in dark blue skies.

Some will miss seeing Santa in a traditional red suit (fur or not), but Library Mouse fans will enjoy this peripheral extension of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-14197-1233-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

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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