The idea of giving to others as the best way to celebrate Christmas is certainly not new, but the treatment here is fresh...

ME AND MY DRAGON

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

From the Me and My Dragon series

In the third story in the Me and My Dragon series, the red dragon and the boy who owns him find a new way to celebrate Christmas.

The unnamed, dark-skinned boy with straight, black hair and Dragon work together to earn money to buy Christmas gifts for their family members. They take all sorts of freelance jobs, mostly ones that come with gag opportunities, such as selling toasted marshmallows, cleverly roasted with Dragon’s fiery breath, on a stick. After babysitting for free for a single mom with seven kids, the boy and his pet see that the family can’t afford to heat their house. The boy donates his funds to an agency that provides fuel to needy families, and with his earnings, Dragon buys some of the latest toys for the children of the family. Instead of giving store-bought presents to one another, the boy and Dragon make simple gifts at home for their family, and both find their Christmas of helping others the “Best Christmas ever!” Bold, digital illustrations have an animation aesthetic and use a pleasing variety of perspectives and page formats, and the dragon with its bulging yellow eyes is quite a scene stealer.

The idea of giving to others as the best way to celebrate Christmas is certainly not new, but the treatment here is fresh enough thanks to the help of the charming red dragon. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-622-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

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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