Move over, reindeer, a new cat’s coming to Christmas.

READ REVIEW

HOW TO HIDE A LION AT CHRISTMAS

From the How To Hide a Lion series

There’s no hiding Iris’ love for her pet lion.

There’s little backstory to explain to readers unfamiliar with How To Hide a Lion (2013) how the lion came to live with Iris and her family. But even though “all the townspeople loved him,” Iris’ mother says the big cat can’t accompany them to Auntie Sarah’s house for Christmas because others on the train and in the town they’re visiting would be frightened. Iris is saddened, and her sadness spurs the lion into action: After she and her family leave home, he follows and hides in the overhead luggage rack on the train. No one notices him, in part because he falls asleep on the journey and therefore is quiet. Unfortunately, he sleeps through the moment when Iris’ family gets off the train. When he awakens, he’s far from Auntie Sarah’s house. But the intrepid feline follows the railroad tracks back to a village, where, after humorous encounters with carolers and Santa himself, he is finally reunited with Iris. Stephens’ pictures have a cartoon quality to them, and they amplify the warm, gentle humor of the text as they alternate between vignettes and full bleeds, culminating in a relaxed family scene by the Christmas tree at Auntie Sarah’s. Iris, her family, and Santa all present white.

Move over, reindeer, a new cat’s coming to Christmas. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-23079-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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