WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

As picturesque, nostalgic, and quaint as the happiest of holiday memories.

In this visual interpretation of a classic holiday song as sung by Peggy Lee, Hopgood strings together a beautiful, wintry chain of family pleasures.

Pure joy greets readers right from the start: the first double-page spread opens on a lovely snowy landscape with a fox, some deer, and a sleigh as musical notes accompany that familiar opening line, “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?” Readers then meet a family of five with dark hair, rosy cheeks, and peach-colored skin. The loose narrative centers on this merry band as they frolic in the woods. Classic images of a winter paradise soon follow: building a snowman, watching snow fall, sledding down a hill, snuggling up near a fire, and much more. (The line “We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way,” which seems to describe a snowball fight, will give some readers pause.) Hopgood’s crayon-and-pastel illustrations capture the sheer wonder of winter. Dark and soft blues dominate, serving as complementary backdrops for each spark of red, burst of orange, and smear of green. One particular double-page spread showing the family in front of a white tree with notes hung on its branches just gushes with wholesomeness. Better yet, each turn of the page matches each turn of the lyric impeccably. Both text and pictures cohere into utter cheerfulness, sure to get anybody singing along.

As picturesque, nostalgic, and quaint as the happiest of holiday memories. (lyrics, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-304-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

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

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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