This will be fun for a percentage of preschoolers; that’s about it.

ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS

The Three Bears invite other fairy-tale characters to a Christmas Eve celebration and end up with their paws full.

All the Christmas festivities are set up for the guests’ enjoyment, but the party quickly becomes a mess. Rapunzel’s hair gets wrapped around the tree, and then she stumbles, knocking the wind out of Jack Frost, which causes a mighty, destructive gust. The squall is so powerful that Santa’s sleigh, in the air over the other side of the woods, is pulled to the ground and crashes into Baby Bear Lagoon. Sopping wet, Santa goes looking for help, flashlight in hand, and finds the Bears’ cottage. He is helping himself to Papa Bear’s clothes when he discovers there is a crowd, and they are all happy to come to his rescue. Working together, they make a plan and save Santa’s sleigh, the presents, and Christmas. Santa stays at the party a while before going off to deliver presents. Children familiar with the characters, like the Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood, will get a kick out of pointing them out in the bright, cartoonlike illustrations, which are effective in their storytelling despite being a bit garish. But despite nods to the fairy-tale originals, the actual plot is something of a bust. Santa is White, and the human and elf characters are fairly diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This will be fun for a percentage of preschoolers; that’s about it. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5460-1391-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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