The subtitle for the book is “A Very Confused Christmas,” and many young readers will indeed be confused.

MISSILE TOE

A VERY CONFUSED CHRISTMAS

A dozen humorous poems are inspired by Christmas-related words or phrases as a child might mishear them.

The cover and related title poem, “Missile Toe,” focus on a soccer player by that name. He is a boy with brown skin who always leaps too high and misses scoring. This time, he still leaps but gently taps the ball in as the other players “hugged and kissed beneath Missile Toe.” Most of the other poems focus on traditional Christmas songs, with some sort of humorous twist on the title or a line from the song as the poem’s theme, as in the poems “O Holey Knight” and “The Wee Kings of Orientar.” The poem “Deck the Halls” riffs on a phrase that many a child has found mysterious. There is no title page or author’s note to identify the original songs. Most of the poems require a level of background knowledge  that is beyond the capacity of the intended audience, and the humor would need to be explained to children. A few poems stand on their own, such as “Johnny Oats Ate Nicholas,” about a puppy named Johnny Oats who eats Nicholas the guppy (though it may take saying the title a few times to understand the sonic confusion), and “I’ll Be a Gnome for Christmas.” Amusing, action-filled illustrations include children of different ethnicities. Santa is white; the Wise Men have brown skin.

The subtitle for the book is “A Very Confused Christmas,” and many young readers will indeed be confused. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-371-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote.

VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE!

The children of fictional Stanton Elementary School educate themselves and their community about the vote in this picture book.

With its illustrations of simple shapes in bright colors imbuing a sense of positive action and a diverse cast of characters, this picture book rocks—and that’s even before the narrative takes hold. When Stanton’s students learn that their school becomes a polling station every two years, they want to be part of it—but learn they can’t vote until they are 18. Undeterred, they take action. The kids do their research and then engage their community to encourage those of voting age to go to the polls. They go door to door with voter-guide pamphlets, they hold a bake sale (with clever reminders like “Donut forget to vote”), and remind their families to vote. Each child-empowering scenario is paired with an adult’s excuse (“I’ll be away”; “I’m not even registered”; “I can’t walk so far”), and with each comment, the kids have an answer that draws on their research: “You can vote by mail”; “It’s not hard to register”; “A volunteer can drive you!” These kids mean business; it’s their future after all. Children and adults depicted represent a range of skin colors, hair textures, and gender presentations; one girl and her aunt wear hijab. Backmatter includes a quick listing of kid-relevant federal legislation.

Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9280-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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