CARL, THE CHRISTMAS CARP

This longer Christmas story with an old-world flavor is set in modern-day Prague and explores the Hungarian tradition of serving a carp for Christmas dinner. A boy named Radim goes with his father to select the live carp from the street vendors, and the unattractive fish is installed in the family bathtub until Christmas. Radim feels sorry for the fish and names him Carl due to a resemblance to the boy’s Uncle Carl. After discussing Carl the carp’s fate, early on Christmas Eve morning Radim and his friend Mila liberate the fish, slipping him back into the river. Mila’s family invites Radim and his parents to their house to share their chicken dinner on Christmas since Carl is no longer on the menu. The story is told with an old-fashioned tone and a dry wit, and it includes some interesting insights into life in a different country. The glowing watercolor-and-ink illustrations by a native Czechoslovakian are filled with explosive color and subtle streaks of white that effectively suggest wintry winds whistling down the ancient streets of Prague. For the Jewish take on the same story—carp equals gefilte fish for Seder dinner—find Barbara Cohen’s The Carp in the Bathtub (1972), still available in paperback. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-55143-329-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach.

THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY

The you-know-what hits the fan after a lad’s parents rashly allow him to pick a theme for his birthday party.

Julian insists, and so after the party store poops out, everyone sets to cranking out homemade poop-up invitations, “poopsicles” and “lollypoops,” costumes, and games like “Pin-the-Poop-on-the-Toilet.” But will anyone drop in? Do they ever—in such massive streams that even the local news team catches wind of the event. Better yet, dancing the “Doo-Doo Doo-op” to tunes from the Dookie-Poo band and whacking the poop piñata, everyone has a blast. The party assumes such legendary status that news of it spreads around the world, prompting Julian and his family to create a graphic instruction manual together. Galán goes to town with swirling scenes in saturated hues with lots of brown, featuring hyped-up figures with wide eyes and huge grins. Julian’s family appears to be an interracial one, with an Asian-presenting dad and White-presenting mom whose attitudes modulate from disgust to delight over the course of the story. Readers inspired to organize poop parties of their own will find models for suitable decorations in the pictures. A caveat: The recipe for poop slime that Berger applies to the tail end uses glue and baby oil, among other ingredients, but is not labeled as inedible. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23787-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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