A solemn holiday is given an appealing, entertaining treatment well suited to young kids.

On the Day of Atonement, the Big Bad Wolf reflects.

It’s Yom Kippur, and the Big Bad Wolf is preparing to be bad. Things start changing at the synagogue, where he concedes a hug feels nice and almost sings along with the others. Hearing the rabbi’s sermon, Wolf wonders if he can become “better and brighter.” After services, Wolf encounters familiar story characters: a red-hooded girl and her grandmother, whom he treats kindly, and a porcine trio to whom he gives sensible home-building advice. What’s happened? Wolf’s worst instincts repeatedly try to surface, but they’re defeated by his much-improved nature, and it becomes clear that the formerly Big Bad Wolf has evolved into a much nicer lupine. That evening, after the holiday is over, the Big Good Wolf is rewarded by his grateful newfound friends. This sweet, humorous tale conveys the meaning of this important Jewish holiday in a way that’s understandable for children. Its premise proves it’s easy to err on the side of good; each of us has kindness within, and it’s satisfying to let it show. The fractured-fairy-tale motif will engage young readers and also makes familiar literary sense, as the Big Bad Wolf, naturally, is the antagonist of both “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs.” The illustrations are comical and dynamic; Wolf and all other animal characters are riotously expressive. Bespectacled Little Red and Granny are pale-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A solemn holiday is given an appealing, entertaining treatment well suited to young kids. (author’s note about Yom Kippur) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781681156064

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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