HOW TO HIDE A LION AT CHRISTMAS

From the How To Hide a Lion series

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

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

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How To Catch… series

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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