This jaunty, optimistic interpretation of the nostalgic Thanksgiving song will be useful in library holiday collections as...

READ REVIEW

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOOD

The traditional song about a sleigh ride to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner is interpreted with a snowy setting in the mountains.

As the story opens, a brother and sister duo is ready to set off in their red, horse-drawn sleigh, with their parents preparing to follow in their own purple sleigh. As the children journey though “white and drifted snow,” they cross over a river and along the way meet a rabbit, beavers, moose, foxes, and a wolf who follow them to Grandmother’s farm. The boy and girl are welcomed by Grandmother and her companion, a man with a curly, white beard, who might be their grandfather or a friend or maybe even Santa, considering his dark red hat with white trim. The conclusion finds all the characters, including the friendly animals, joining together for an outdoor Thanksgiving feast. Bright, vibrant illustrations convey a cheery tone with smiling characters and cooperative animals joining in the festive celebration. The text can be read as a story or sung to the familiar tune, though musical notation is not included. There is no indication that the words to the now-traditional song are from a poem written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844. Children, parents, and Grandmother all have light-brown skin and straight, dark hair, while Grandmother’s companion has pale skin.

This jaunty, optimistic interpretation of the nostalgic Thanksgiving song will be useful in library holiday collections as well as for family celebrations. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-515-15765-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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