Hoppy Christmas to all (and a Merry Easter, too).

SANTA CLAUS VS. THE EASTER BUNNY

A clash between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny resolves itself in merry collaboration.

The title should be switched: It’s the Easter Bunny who plots to take down Santa Claus after feeling bitter about all of the help and thanks St. Nick receives year after year. As the text explains, the Bunny has no elf helpers and follows an exhausting three-step process to make chocolate eggs “before delivering them all by himself. (Which explains why you often find Easter eggs scattered all over your yard).” Then, in stark contrast to Santa, who receives goodies from children around the globe, including carrots for his reindeer, the Easter Bunny gets no thanks. “I LIKE CARROTS. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A CARROT?” he exclaims in an angry speech bubble. Grinch-like, he decides to sabotage Christmas by filling the elves’ toy-making machines with chocolate: “THOSE POOR SWEET CHILDREN! WHATEVER WILL THEY DO WHEN THEIR TOYS MELT? Wooo Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.” Alas, the plan backfires. Children are delighted by their chocolate toys. “I CAN PLAY AND EAT CHOCOLATE AT THE SAME TIME!” says one child who holds a chocolate airplane. Bereft, the Easter Bunny decides to leave for good, but Santa stops him and offers a jolly partnership, complete with elf helpers—and carrots! Blunt’s scratchy cartoons go big on the Bunny’s maniacal grins.

Hoppy Christmas to all (and a Merry Easter, too). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9164-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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