Presents for Hanukkah can be both surprising and perfect.

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KUGEL FOR HANUKKAH?

The traditional Ashkenazic Hanukkah treat of latkes is about to be replaced.

The youngest sibling in an observant Jewish family narrates the family ritual of lighting the shamash, or helper candle, and then adding one more candle for each night of Hanukkah until, finally, eight are burning brightly. Blessings are recited and gifts are exchanged. The young narrator would like a cuddly animal but receives an odd assortment of presents. Or are they really that odd? At the same time, Grandma is opening an apron, a cookbook, and oven mitts. Eating a wide assortment of vegetable-filled latkes does not quite make the long-haired youngest sib happy until the final reveal—make that two! Grandma and her cooking utensils and ingredients result in a delicious if not traditional treat: “Cranberry Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Kugel.” The recipe is included at the end of the story. Oh, and that wish for a pet is also fulfilled. It is not especially cuddly, but it will be well loved. Everin’s tale is entertaining and happy and will make a pleasant addition to holiday book shelves. Ashdown’s colorful illustrations feature a googly-eyed family and a menorah depicting each night of the holiday. The historical setting of Hanukkah is assumed.

Presents for Hanukkah can be both surprising and perfect. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3464-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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