The Ziz, a large, somewhat clumsy mythical bird, returns in a Hanukkah story offering an unlikely explanation for how one day’s oil lasted eight. Frustrated by how night’s winter darkness prevents him from accomplishing his evening tasks, the Ziz looks for ways to light his path. Finally, he decides to approach God on Mt. Sinai, who gives him an oil lantern that burns brightly each night. But his newfound treasure begs sharing from his fellow mountain dwellers. Unwilling, the selfish Ziz flies away with his precious lantern, stopping to rest at the Holy Temple, newly reconstructed after the Maccabee victory. He overhears Judah’s worried voice about not having enough oil to light the eternal menorah. The Ziz decides to approach God once more, and He commands the Ziz to help Judah with the oil in his lantern. Colorful paintings in deep tones illustrate this original tale with its goofy-looking overgrown yellow-bodied bird with red-and-purple plumes. Jules incorporates the theme of sharing, as well as apologizing, in a droll version of a holiday tale. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58013-160-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.


From the Here I Come! series

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying.


A story-reading dragon—what’s not to like?

Duncan the Dragon loves to read. But the stories so excite him, his imagination catches fire—and so do his books, leaving him wondering about the endings. Does the captain save the ship? Do aliens conquer the Earth? Desperate to reach the all-important words “The End” (“like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake”), he tries reading in the refrigerator, in front of a bank of electric fans, and even in a bathtub filled with ice. Nothing works. He decides to ask a friend to read to him, but the raccoon, possum, and bull all refuse. Weeping, Duncan is ready to give up, but one of his draconic tears runs “split-splat into a mouse,” a book-loving mouse! Together they battle sea monsters, dodge icebergs, and discover new lands, giving rise to a fast friendship. Driscoll’s friendly illustrations are pencil sketches painted in Adobe Photoshop; she varies full-bleed paintings with vignettes surrounded by white space, imaginary scenes rendered in monochrome to set them apart. Duncan himself is green, winged, and scaly, but his snout is unthreateningly bovine, and he wears red sneakers with his shoelaces untied—a nicely vulnerable touch. Though there are lots of unusual friendship stories in picture books, the vivid colors, expressive faces, and comic details make this one likely to be a storytime hit.

Like the last sip of a chocolate milkshake, it’s very satisfying. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75507-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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