A fresh take on Santa’s reindeer and their imaginary lives at the North Pole.

GOOD NIGHT, REINDEER

Santa tucks each reindeer in bed for a night of restful sleep before their important journey around the world.

The rhyming story opens with a nighttime scene of the reindeer—the familiar, named ones from Dasher through Rudolph—engaged in a snowball fight when Santa and Mrs. Claus call them in. The anthropomorphized reindeer have their own bedrooms in their house at the North Pole, complete with beds, toys, and modern possessions such as an e-reader for Blitzen and a drum set and electric guitar for Cupid. Santa stops at each bedroom to say good night to each reindeer by name, with an added phrase describing that reindeer’s special talent or interest. Dancer wears ballet shoes, Comet’s room is decorated with models of planets, and Rudolph seems to be reading under the covers using his built-in light. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are white; one of their elves and a doll have brown skin. The rhyming text is catchy and humorous, although two of the rhyming word pairs are near misses (hooves/shoes and elves/bells). The story has echoes of Goodnight Moon in its bidding goodnight to items in bedrooms and in an illustration of a golden moon shining down on the waiting sleigh. Dark, atmospheric illustrations have a surrealistic vibe, mysterious and just short of scary.

A fresh take on Santa’s reindeer and their imaginary lives at the North Pole. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-370-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

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. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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. 2, 2021

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