An exquisite volume of most interest to students of art, church libraries, or large libraries with extensive art collections.

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THE NATIVITY

This striking version of the Nativity story is illustrated with reproductions of fresco paintings by the Italian renaissance artist Giotto.

The frescoes were painted in Padua, Italy, in about 1305 and are considered to be Giotto’s masterwork and among the greatest masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. These frescoes tell the story of Mary and Jesus, and portions have been reproduced for this book. They illustrate the familiar story, beginning with the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, continuing through the birth of Jesus, and ending with the flight of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus into Egypt. The illustrations are exquisite from an artistic viewpoint, with finely detailed faces surrounded by golden haloes. The illustrations are set on one page each double-page spread, with the text set opposite in an attractive typeface on ivory paper with a decorative border above. The lyrical text is based on the four Gospels of the New Testament. There are no notes in the book about the sources or development of the text, and there are only a few sentences about Giotto, which is a shame, as further, specific information about the frescoes would have extended the use of the book in library collections.

An exquisite volume of most interest to students of art, church libraries, or large libraries with extensive art collections. (Picture book/religion. 9 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-988-8240-46-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Readers of both genders will take to this original and hilarious story—so long as they do not still believe in Santa.

THE NAUGHTY LIST

A zany take on how Christmas happens aims straight for the middle-grade humor sweet spot.

The year her father moves to North Dakota pursuing an oil job, 12-year-old Bobbie Mendoza decides to ignore Christmas. Before this, Bobbie was a normal girl, but now she oozes ’tude: her favorite color is “black. Black goes with everything. Even me.” Among the other indignities of this year, the family’s inflatable Zombie Santa attacks Bobbie—resulting in a “stupid HOT PINK cast.” Bobbie’s decision to get younger brother Tad a 3D Mega Machine by any means necessary leads to her abduction by two elves, learning the truth about the evil keeper of the Naughty List, and discovering what Tad really wants for Christmas. Along the way Bobbie meets a less-than-admirable Santa in a North Pole redolent of refried beans, along with equally unconventional reindeer led by antler-sparking Larry (not the other one). The copious illustrations, black-and-white cartoons reminiscent of Fry’s comic strip, “Over the Hedge,” add fun, clarity, and (oddly enough) believability to the text. Despite the female main focus, boys will enjoy the story too.  References to butts, farts, and lead reindeer Larry’s incontinence will cause mirth and the occasional guffaw.

Readers of both genders will take to this original and hilarious story—so long as they do not still believe in Santa. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-235475-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Yet another novel about dreading middle school, this breezy beach read is well-done but offers little new.

11 BEFORE 12

Two BFFs tackle the anxiety-riddled transition to middle school by creating a list of 11 things to accomplish before their 12th birthdays in November.

Kaylan has what her Italian grandmother called “agita”—anxiety—and she has maximum-high levels at the prospect of sixth grade with its cliques and mean girls. Lots is changing in the white girl’s life: her dad has moved to Arizona and her mom is sad; her one-year-older brother, Ryan, once her friend, is now her tormentor; and she is beginning to get butterflies around boys. Kaylan and her best friend, Ari, white and Jewish, create a list, ranging from getting detention and makeovers to first kisses and sabotaging Ryan. When Ari connects with friends from Hebrew school and summer camp, the two BFFs fight. Kaylan’s not-quite-teen first-person voice perfectly captures the horrors of starting at a new school, from the prospect of eating alone in the cafeteria to the awkwardness of meeting a new neighbor boy, biracial (black/white) Jason. Jason supplies most of the book’s diversity; one of the indistinguishable lunch-table friends mentions being Korean but is undeveloped as a character. As is typical for the genre, Kaylan matures and learns to cope with unpredictability, even participating in the talent show as the fastest clementine peeler in school.

Yet another novel about dreading middle school, this breezy beach read is well-done but offers little new. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241174-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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