Engages both the eye and ear as it instills a sense of wonder.



Oakes’ (The Black Coats, 2019, etc.) Christian picture book illustrates God’s diurnal and nocturnal creations.

Little Niko awakes in the middle of the night with the realization that he left his toy train in the woods near his house. He hurriedly dons his coat and boots and runs out into the night to retrieve his favorite toy. Along the way, he notes the differences in his surroundings from when he was playing in the woods the previous morning. Instead of singing goldfinches (“bay-bee”) and drilling woodpeckers (“thump-thump-thump”), there’s a barn owl calling (“hoot-hoot”). Where bees were buzzing, fireflies dance. As Niko passes through the night, he knows that even in the dark, God watches over him. He reaches the end of the woods and finds his prized train on a fence post and, rejoicing, returns home to go back to bed. This charming, simple tale is punctuated with vibrant paint-and-collage illustrations by debut illustrator Chan. Though the narrative mentions God and the author unveils in the afterword that she was inspired by several specific parables from the Bible, the Christian themes aren’t heavy-handed. Oakes ably employs color words and onomatopoeia to engage young audiences.

Engages both the eye and ear as it instills a sense of wonder.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7586-6208-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Concordia Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An unremarkable but effective way to inculcate familiarity with standard Christmas iconography


New babies don’t know much about Christmas. This simple board book aims to correct that situation.

The cover art of a smiling white snowman against a bright red background sporting a green-and-red stocking hat, scarf, and gloves invites readers in. Simple stock images, often of toys, one per page, highlight additional objects often associated with secular aspects of the holiday. Each item is shown in its most generic form, embossed and glossy against high-contrast backgrounds. Thankfully, not all the pictures are green and red. The first pages—of a snowflake and ornament—have blue and yellow backgrounds. The next two pictures, of a polar bear and penguin, are odd choices since they really have nothing to do with the holiday. A Christmas tree, angel, present, stocking, reindeer, and “santa” (the last printed in lowercase as if a generic) are more closely associated with the celebration. The angel is a knitted brown doll with a white handkerchief dress. The reindeer is a stuffed animal. Each object is clearly labeled, and an exclamation or question (“Look at her sparkly halo!”) in a smaller font extends the conversation. The final spread reprises all the images except the snowman.

An unremarkable but effective way to inculcate familiarity with standard Christmas iconography . (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6867-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Provocative yet cautious.


A community transformed by swastikas, and the response.

Chokecherry, Colorado, is a small town with a lot going on. A group of paleontologists from Massachusetts have set up a research station after fossilized dinosaur poop is discovered in the area. Some residents still whisper about the Night of a Thousand Flames in 1978, when Ku Klux Klan members flocked to the area and burned crosses. And the local media is sent into an uproar when Michael Amorosa, a Dominican boy and one of the few students of color, discovers a swastika painted on a wall at Chokecherry Middle School. Told in alternating perspectives, the story follows the students as they embark on a lengthy tolerance-building curriculum, come up with an art project to commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, deal with an out-of-town YouTuber who wants to go viral with his commentary on the story, and learn more about themselves and their family histories. The only Jewish girl, Dana Levinson, helps Lincoln Rowley study for his bar mitzvah after he learns that his maternal grandmother, rescued and raised by nuns as a Christian, was the sole member of her family to survive the Holocaust. While the story is engaging, with many twists and turns, the different voices blend together, and emotional depth takes a back seat to educational goals. There’s a lot to ponder here about mistakes, intention, the difference between ignorance and hatred, and religious identity.

Provocative yet cautious. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-62911-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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