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THE CHRISTMAS BLESSING

A ONE-OF-A-KIND NATIVITY STORY ABOUT THE LOVE THAT BRINGS US TOGETHER

Serves its purpose.

Bickering animals unite to clean up their barn for the arrival of baby Jesus.

A thundering voice asks Mama Star to shine a path for the wandering family whose baby will fill the world with light. Mama Star shines bright to lead the way. At the Bethlehem stable, she asks the animals, who have awoken in confusion, to calm down and work together to clean up for “great visitors.” The different animals argue over the responsibility. Mama Star’s light fills the stable as she speaks to them again, telling them to look at how each kind of animal loves their young, families, and friends: “Love is love, if you’re a goat, a pig, a horse, or hen.” The coming birth will bless everyone and spread love on Earth, she tells them. The animals cuddle their young, then each starts to pitch in to clean the manger and create a comfortable space for the birth. The final page holds a rhyming “Christmas blessing” filled with thanks. The main story’s text rhymes gently, though some lines are awkwardly phrased, and many lack the rhythmic structure that makes for smooth read-alouds. Soft-focus illustrations depict Mama Star as an angelic shape composed of white light; human characters are pictured from afar or from behind, leaving their appearances up to readers’ imaginations. With the focus on unity around the blessing of Christ’s birth, this will make a nice addition to religious Christian homes.

Serves its purpose. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-4049-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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