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 forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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