From the El Cucuy series

A sweet invitation to enjoy Navidad.

Ramón tries to get El Cucuy into the holiday spirit.

“¡Feliz Navidad, El Cucuy!” says Ramón. But the fanged, hairy monster would rather ignore Christmas. The lights twinkle too brightly, the muñeco de nieve (or snowman) seems pointless (and initially scary!), and El Cucuy is alarmed at the prospect of strangers showing up at the front door for Nochebuena, the final day of Las Posadas, a nine-night Christmas festival observed by many Latine communities. Can El Cucuy offer kindness to strangers? Perhaps—with Ramón at his side (and some horchata). Soon, it’s time to bash the piñata. Though El Cucuy hesitates, Ramón reminds the little monster that families celebrate together. “I am your family?” asks a happy El Cucuy. A hug, a regalo, and a little assurance bring a feliz Navidad into full swing. Scattering Spanish phrases throughout, Higuera leverages a fruitful push-and-pull dynamic between Ramón and El Cucuy to emphasize the communal spirit of the holidays and, of course, the yummy food that brings communities together. A tad overly gooey at times, El Cucuy’s latest foray into unfamiliar terrain nonetheless reassures readers who may find themselves in similar situations. Enticingly festive, Perdomo’s cheerful artwork moves from cold landscapes of snow to warmly lit indoor celebrations (eventually merging the contrasts), mirroring El Cucuy’s transformation from reluctant recluse to gleeful participant. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet invitation to enjoy Navidad. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781419760136

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023


As ephemeral as a valentine.

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. 1, 2021


Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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