Share with older children; it will give them a new understanding of Grandma.

MARGUERITE'S CHRISTMAS

“Marguerite Godin would be happy if she never had to set foot outside her house ever again.”

The Canadian widow tells her children she’ll be fine by herself; she’s been looking forward to eating dinner and watching the Christmas specials “for days.” Her solitary suburban idyll is disturbed by the doorbell; she immediately imagines the Grim Reaper. “She’s not ready,” so it’s a good thing it’s just a dad whose car has become stuck in the snow. Though she keeps him and his family at arm’s length, she enjoys watching them celebrate as best they can in the car and finally even ventures outside with a tray of refreshments. It’s too late—they’ve been freed—but outside in the moonlight, “the cold air feels so good.” This lengthy, intimate, sometimes-morbid look at a transformative, end-of-life Christmas makes for a highly unusual picture book, but it works. Desjardins’ wry text masterfully conjures details that place young readers in Marguerite’s alien experience, and Blanchet’s flat, retro illustrations are a perfect complement. In both aesthetic and setting they evoke the mid-20th century, when Marguerite and her husband no doubt set up housekeeping. In one particularly funny, wordless image, Marguerite stands at the door, an impossibly long cord extending all the way down the hall from the dad’s unseen hand outside to the rotary phone hung on the wall.

Share with older children; it will give them a new understanding of Grandma. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59270-178-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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