A pleasant but not particularly fresh story that fails to capture the irresistible personality of Plum as established in her...

A female mutt named Plum makes friends with a neighbor cat in this sequel to Love Is My Favorite Thing (2015).

In the first story, Plum gets into lots of mischief but is still loved by her owners, white adults named Emma and Rupert. The children who live next door, blond, white Sam and Gracie, are Plum’s best friends. In this sequel, the children have a surprise for Plum: their new, male cat named Binky. The wily, white cat tries hard to be friendly to Plum, who resists the feline’s assertive attempts to engage. Binky follows Plum everywhere, copies her actions, and makes himself a general nuisance. The cat proves a real friend when Plum is accidentally locked in a garden shed and Binky summons help, but Plum continues to resist and tries to prevent Binky from coming into his own house in a rainstorm. A too-pat resolution occurs when the humans explain to Plum that they all have enough love for both a cat and a dog, and Plum has an immediate conversion to best-friend status with Binky. Engaging illustrations in watercolor and colored pencil help to mitigate the weak text, using a wide variety of compositions to successfully convey Plum’s trepidation and Binky’s overconfidence, and the extra-large trim size and cheerful palette offer additional visual appeal.

A pleasant but not particularly fresh story that fails to capture the irresistible personality of Plum as established in her first outing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-54666-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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