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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Hooray, hooray for this par-tay.

FOX & RABBIT CELEBRATE

From the Fox & Rabbit series , Vol. 3

Five more stories featuring buddy pair Fox and Rabbit.

Following the formula of its predecessors, this third installment of the Fox & Rabbit series focuses on Sparrow’s “super-trooper special” birthday. A slightly unrelated opening story introduces a variety of animal characters as Fox—proudly adopting the moniker “Fix-it Fox”—goes around trying to solve everyone’s “enormous problems.” In the next story, Fox and Rabbit scheme to make the “biggest, roundest, yummiest pizza in the world.” They pilfer ingredients from Sparrow’s garden (a nod to the first book) and ask Mouse for mozzarella. Subsequent stories—each contained in a chapter—involve a pizza-cooking dragon, the “really awesome” party, and a birthday wish that finally comes true. Dudás’ full-color cartoon illustrations complement Ferry’s chipper tone and punny dialogue for an upbeat woodland romp. Even the turtle, who always comically arrives at the end of the chapter and misses most of the action, gets to enjoy the party. Another standout scene, in which Fox assumes Dragon doesn’t speak their language and speaks “Dragonian” unprompted, gently addresses microaggressions. Though all dialogue is clearly linked to each speaker, some scenes with lots of back and forth within a single panel gear this to comics readers with a bit of experience. Still, the eight-panel–per-page max and short chapters keep the text accessible and pace quick.

Hooray, hooray for this par-tay. (Graphic early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5183-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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