An accessible religious fable accompanied by beautiful images of the natural world.

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A young, struggling tree learns his worth in this debut picture book.

A little tree named Twig is planted at a Southern farm. But he experiences anxiety because he’s different from other trees: “It’s a horrible thing not to feel good about yourself, and Twig definitely did not feel good about himself.” He’s small; he’s a different color; and even as he grows, no buyers ever purchase him to be their Christmas tree. But Mr. B, the farm’s owner, lavishes attention on Twig, telling the tree he saves the best for last. As Mr. B gets ready to go home to the One, the name the trees use for the creator who is celebrated at Christmas, he finally explains why Twig, now grown large, is special. He’s a blue spruce, and he’s not supposed to flourish in such a warm climate. But Mr. B told a friend the One could “make anything grow anywhere,” and Twig was his proof. After Mr. B’s death, the friend, now a believer, creates a park around Twig. Mr. B’s faith and the love he shows for his friend, through Twig, are sure to inspire Christian readers. Hoffman’s choice to narrate from the perspectives of the trees gives children an easy way to grasp the complex issue of religious belief. The lovely illustrations, featuring mostly pale-skinned humans along with a variety of trees and woodland creatures, by watercolor artist Sauber are worth framing.

An accessible religious fable accompanied by beautiful images of the natural world.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64543-381-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020


Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022


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

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