VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY FROM THE CRAYONS

A predictable series entry, mitigated as usual by the protagonists’ perennially energetic positivity.

A holiday-centered spinoff from the duo behind the inspired The Day the Crayons Quit (2013).

With Green Crayon on vacation, how can the waxy ones pull off a colorful St. Patrick’s Day celebration with Duncan, their (unseen) owner? Through their signature combo of cooperation and unwavering enthusiasm, of course. Blue and Yellow collaborate on a field of shamrocks that blends—however spottily—into green. Nearly invisible White Crayon supplies an otherwise unclothed light-skinned leprechaun with undies, and Orange draws a pair of pants that match the wee creature’s iconic beard and hair. Pink applies colors to a vest, and Purple, a natty jacket and boots. Chunky Toddler Crayon contributes a “perfect” scribbly blue hat; Beige and Brown team up for the leprechaun’s harp. In arguably the best bit, Black exuberantly manifests a decidedly unvariegated rainbow, while Gold’s pot of coins is right on the money, hue-wise. Their ardor undimmed by the holiday’s missing customary color, everyone assembles to party. Though the repartee among the crayons isn’t as developed as in previous outings, the book hews close to Daywalt and Jeffers’ winning formula, and there’s still enough here to keep readers chuckling. And, in a droll “wait for it” moment nicely calibrated for storytime, Green returns from vacation, sunglasses and suitcase in hand: “Did I miss anything while I was gone?” (The cover illustrations do hint at some Green-inflected remediation.)

A predictable series entry, mitigated as usual by the protagonists’ perennially energetic positivity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593624333

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

OTTO THE ORNAMENT

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story.

A glitzy ornament searches for a tree worthy of him but finds his real place where he least expects it.

“Merry Christmas, bulbs and baubles! I’m Otto! I’m here to bedeck the heck out of your tree!” And “bedeck the heck” he tries! When Otto is told there’s space for him in the middle of the tree, he scoffs—only the top will do for an ornament like him. After he mocks his fellow ornaments, they refuse to make room for him, so he heads out to look for a new place to shine. He takes a scarring tumble down into the sewer, where he encounters an unlikely precious item. Returning with his find, Otto no longer sparkles but still manages to shine at home on the tree. This is a well-paced, appealing tale that will make for a great preschool read-aloud come December. Arrogant Otto has a satisfying redemptive arc that will resonate with readers. The dialogue and wordplay are pitch-perfect, bringing the characters to life. A mix of cartoonish vignettes and full-page spreads effectively depicts action and movement. Otto is multicolored and patterned with big eyes and a winning grin; the other ornaments on the tree also have personalities that match their styles. The few humans who appear are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An Otto-rly successful modern Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593481202

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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