Even New Orleanians will want to let this rest in peace.

READ REVIEW

CEMETERY JAMBOREE

Some historical figures’ spirits gather for a Halloween gala.

“In New Orleans on Halloween night, / the dearly departed sway in the moonlight. / They gather their bones and they set ’em just right. / The cemetery jamboree starts tonight!” This refrain appears between each newcomer to the party, though its odd scansion and wordiness may mean that listeners still won’t be able to chime in even after the seventh iteration. Louis Armstrong is the first to arrive, trumpet in hand. Next comes singer Mahalia Jackson. The verse highlights her angel wings, but these aren’t recognizable in the artwork until subsequent spreads. Marie Laveau, with a book of spells, is followed by Andrew Jackson, ordering his troops to search for the “souls of lost men.” Jean Lafitte and Huey P. Long round out the participants. Thomas’ cut-paper–collage artwork is full of textures and patterns but not detail, and her skeletons lack any real spark of personality, distinguished mainly by their props. But the greatest weakness of the book is its failure to bring history to life for its audience—there are no notes explaining who these six figures were or how they are connected to New Orleans. The author’s note tells where they are buried—most not in New Orleans—but not how or why New Orleans “is a city that beckons to the core of their existence.”

Even New Orleanians will want to let this rest in peace. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2239-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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