SANTA'S SECRET

Can an inquisitive child find the real Santa?

Rhyming, first-person text follows a child to the city with the family for some holiday fun. They appear white in the cartoon illustrations, with peachy skin and straight, auburn hair (though Grandma’s coif is gray and wavy). When Santa goes by during a parade, he has light-brown skin and round, gold-rimmed glasses. On the facing page, the narrator is surprised to see another Santa with lighter skin and square, black-framed glasses. Puzzled, the child narrates, “I demanded to know: ‘Who is the REAL one?!’ ” Grandma tells her, “It’s Santa’s secret, just as it should be,” but the child decides to investigate. Most of the sleuthing occurs while visiting Santa in a store where he’s taking photos with children. The determined kid whips out a notepad and grills him. This patient, white Santa looks different from the others, rather like he’s stepped out of “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Then, while getting hot cocoa in a coffee shop, the child spies another (white) Santa look-alike (minus the red suit). Before the narrator can ask anything, he says, “ ‘Reindeer like barley and berries to eat. / But carrots,’ he added ‘are their favorite treat.’ ” Then suddenly, he’s gone! This encounter somehow leaves the narrator satisfied with not knowing who the REAL Santa is, but the non-ending may leave readers cold.

Ho-ho-hum. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-038-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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