From the Hedgehog & Friends series

A sweet look at what makes Christmas special.

Hedgehog and Tortoise experience their first Christmas.

“Merry whatmas? / Merry whichmas?” What in the world is Christmas? Fox declares that “Christmas is all about presents.” With kind smiles, Hedgehog and Tortoise think that sounds lovely. But alas, Fox greedily snatches all the brightly wrapped gifts and refuses to share. Badger, however, has a more culinary take on the holiday. “Christmas time is treat time,” Badger says, holding out a spoon of delicious batter to lick (though, unfortunately for Tortoise, it includes raisins). Each woodland creature has a different idea of what makes Christmas special: the singing, decorating, or maybe even the cozy sweaters. Rabbit alludes to the stress of the season: “Everything needs to be perfect … / Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!” The Christmas crackers make loud bangs (a British import cue), while the lights flash garishly. Neither Tortoise nor Hedgehog see the appeal of this holiday. In fact, Christmas seems downright overwhelming. Luckily, Owl arrives to tell them that the holiday “is about being with the ones you love.” And one thing they do know—it feels the best when they’re together. Dunbar’s soft, glowing art matches the duo’s warmth and tenderness, complete with rosy cheeks and gentle hugs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet look at what makes Christmas special. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780571379491

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2023


Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


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

Close Quickview