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

READ REVIEW

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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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Absurd and wacky but also fast-paced and good-humored. Ho, ho, HO! (Fantasy. 7-10)

HAPPY HOWLIDAYS

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY

From the Dog Diaries series , Vol. 2

Following series opener Dog Diaries (2018), Junior, a dog of huge enthusiasm but not much sense, is back for a second romp with his ever so tolerant owner, “Ruff.”

It’s time for the howlidays, including Fangsgiving and, of course, Critter-Mess-Day, the one that features the mysterious Saint Lick! Junior’s take on these events¾all of them new to him since he’s recently been adopted from the pet shelter—is pretty funny. The story consists nearly entirely of his lively encounters with novel holiday-related stuff and his doggy interpretation of what he discovers, quite likely to appeal to children’s funny bones. All of this silliness is presented in first-dog narration in diary format, in large, clear print on pages that overflow with rollicking illustrations that are perfectly matched to the text. There is little in the way of plot or character development, just a series of silly episodes climaxing in Junior’s extremely thorough booby-trapping of the entire house to fend off Saint Lick since he’s heard the jolly fellow leaves “presents” all over the world—and everyone knows what those are: poop! Although his efforts leave the house flooded, toilet paper strewn everywhere and an angry family, Junior is proud of his accomplishment: no “presents.” Ruff (actually Rafe) is Armenian. The tale concludes with a helpful glossary of Doglish terms and several pages of games and drawing instruction.

Absurd and wacky but also fast-paced and good-humored. Ho, ho, HO! (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45618-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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