A fair-to-middling story saved by striking illustrations with lots of sparkle.

THE LUCKIEST SNOWBALL

A boy adopts a talking snowball, storing him in the freezer and introducing him to the changing seasons.

Izzy, who appears to be about 4, is surprised one snowy winter day when a snowball he’s just packed, illustrated as a snowy white talking head, speaks to him. The boy and his dog play with the snowball, making snow angels and a snowman. Izzy names the snowball Larry and puts his new pal in his home freezer for safekeeping, where the snowball befriends food items and ice cubes. Each season Izzy takes the snowball on an outing that lasts until the snowball complains, “Help! I’m melting!” These words are presented in large display type composed of attractive hand-cut letters. When winter returns, Izzy restores Larry to the snow-covered out-of-doors, where the snowball concludes he is lucky to have seen all the seasons and to have made a special friend. The slight plot is elevated by delightful illustrations in bold, digitally produced collage that has a cheery overall effect. The unlikely character of the snowball displays some hilarious expressions as he faces temperature changes, and the outdoor scenes of the boy, dog, and snowball playing together are charming. The boy and his mother present white. Several concluding pages offer basic information and discussion questions on the seasons and on water changing from a solid to a liquid state (though not a gas).

A fair-to-middling story saved by striking illustrations with lots of sparkle. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4105-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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