From the Pout-Pout Fish series

Mr. Fish’s fans can chase away any holiday “dreary-wearies” with this latest entry in the series, though it’s more likely to...

The perennially popular pout-pout fish is back with a new problem: how to find perfect gifts for all his friends.

Mr. Fish wears a “yuletide pout” in this holiday season because of his extensive shopping expectations. He wants his gifts to have “bling-zing,” to be big, bright, and perfect, “guaranteed to bring delight.” He shops till he plops but leaves the mall empty-handed “in a bout of pout-doubt.” His wise friend Miss Shimmer saves the day, with lots of craft supplies and advice about how to make his own presents “with his very own fins!” Mr. Fish finds that his simple, handmade gifts do meet his high expectations and that the camaraderie and goodwill shared with friends are the really meaningful gifts of the season. In addition to the wordplay, the text offers a calming, sensible approach to holiday gift giving with reinforcement of the value of handmade gifts. Hanna’s detailed illustrations of Mr. Fish’s watery world are filled with funny details, as when the sea creatures all hold one another’s tentacles as they celebrate the holiday. A holiday highlight is the arrival of Manta Claus, pulled in his sleigh by sea horses, of course.

Mr. Fish’s fans can chase away any holiday “dreary-wearies” with this latest entry in the series, though it’s more likely to be adults who face the holiday shopping quandary than children. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-35549-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015


Safe to creep on by.

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. 1, 2021


As ephemeral as a valentine.

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. 1, 2021

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