Friendship on the ice: fraught with danger but funny and fulfilling in the end.

It’s a face-off on the ice for a trio of performing penguins and a large, hungry, white seal.

A penguin sporting a jauntily angled red hat and bright green bow tie is in search of his “new best friend” who is a “spectacular dancer!” The first penguin he encounters sings, and the second one toots a horn. Searching on, he comes face to face with a toothy seal, who has visions of a tasty roast. In utter despair, and also facing his imminent demise, the penguin finds able-bodied assistance from his singing and tooting fellows. Their performances are more noise irritant than music-hall fodder, but the seal finds it necessary to cover his ears, and the soon-to-be dinner penguin escapes into the welcome company of two new buddies. Oh, and he also finds the dancing friend—a visual twist that will set readers giggling. Proimos’ animals, outlined in solid black, have bright yellow googly eyes, big orange beaks, and tower over the pages with their brash and bold attitudes. This humorous adventure zooms along in snappy dialogue that is barely contained in large, colorful speech bubbles. A delightful refrain of “Waddle. Waddle. Belly Slide!” will have children chanting or, more likely, shouting along.

Friendship on the ice: fraught with danger but funny and fulfilling in the end. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-41846-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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