A pleasant-enough offering that would have been improved by elimination of the gimmick.

READ REVIEW

ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

A simple retelling of the Nativity story with tactile elements embedded on each spread.

In the five double-page scenes, Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, angels visit the shepherds, and the Magi come from afar. The cartoons, which look to be acrylic paintings in rich jewel tones, are cheery, and the prose is straightforward and just enough for the youngest audience. Each page holds one touch-and-feel feature, dubbed a “finger-trail,” which is created by cutting out the top portion of the page to make an indentation and reveal a layer of patterned paper underneath. Through them, readers are encouraged to “feel” the flight path of angels and the foot trails of shepherds and Magi. However, the gimmick is unevenly presented. On the first page, the finger-trail feature is incomplete, since not all of the donkey’s hoof prints marking Mary and Joseph’s journey are cut away, and the finger-trail on the final double-page spread, which is meant to lead little fingers to the gifts of the three Magi, merely traces the outlines of their backs.

A pleasant-enough offering that would have been improved by elimination of the gimmick. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7459-6241-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Blandly pleasant; entirely skippable.

PRAYERS FOR LITTLE HEARTS

Precious, nursery-style animals and plants decorate the pages of five classic religious adages.

In this hodgepodge collection, Magsamen illustrates childhood prayers with her traditional faux quilting style, featuring candy-colored pastel tones, too-sentimental cartoon animals, and grinning suns, moons, and flowers. There’s a strong heart theme throughout, with a heart-shaped nose on a lamb and similarly shaped birds’ wings. It’s cute but almost entirely generic. Some of the traditional sayings, such as “God made the sun,” are re-created verbatim; others are expanded or altered, as when “I see the moon and the moon sees me” receives additional lines about kissing “nighty-night.” None of these additions adds much to the original, and most have a meter that sounds just a little off. The poems are written in thin, hand-written white letters that don’t always have enough contrast to be seen easily against the background, and the occasional colorfully highlighted and patterned words cramp the page. The simultaneously publishing ’Twas the Night Before Christmas! is purely derivative, with alterations that drastically truncate and remove all the character of the original poem. It reads aloud poorly, particularly to ears accustomed to the original. Both share a tall, narrow trim size that is somewhat unwieldy to hold with a child in the lap.

Blandly pleasant; entirely skippable. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35981-7

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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To enjoy this simple rendition, don’t scrutinize the backdrops too closely.

DREIDEL, DREIDEL, DREIDEL!

This dreidel-shaped board book brings to life a condensed version of the well-known Hanukkah song. 

Anthropomorphic raccoon, beaver, mouse, owl and bear families celebrate the holiday in their woodland homes. Each double-page spread shows a different critter family spinning dreidels, lighting menorahs, frying latkes, serving jelly doughnuts or enjoying other traditional activities. The song synchs up well to the page turns, presenting just enough of the song to engage young attention spans. The menorahs, made of logs, acorns, stones and other natural materials, are a clever touch. Since most families light Hanukkah candles at nightfall, the skies seem much too bright, and the forest floor is a little too green for a late fall/early winter holiday, however. 

To enjoy this simple rendition, don’t scrutinize the backdrops too closely. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-53364-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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