Korngold and Fortenberry move beyond sentimentality to real sentiment.

SADIE AND ORI AND THE BLUE BLANKET

From the Sadie and Ori series

It would be easy to call this picture book two stories in one, but that would be glib and irresponsibly reductive.

This picture book is a guide to the Jewish holidays (complete with directions for making raisin challah on Rosh Hashanah), and it’s a story about a grandmother who knits the titular blue blanket for her grandchildren. But this is really just one book. It’s a story about the passage of time. After a number of holidays have gone by, Ori asks, “Why can’t you play with us like you used to?” Grandma says: “That is part of growing older. I can still sit down on the floor, but I can’t get back up.” Grandma is laughing, but some readers will find the story unbearably sad. Soon, she can’t remember places or names. Some people may also consider the book sentimental. When Grandma cuddles under her blue blanket with the children, she calls it their “Together Blanket,” and the words appear in bold, blue letters whenever mentioned in the text. The story also moves quite slowly, dwelling on the details of each holiday, which is apt in a book about time but often frustrating. Still, it’s hard not to be charmed by Fortenberry’s simple, symmetrical paintings, and it’s hard not to be moved when Sadie and Ori read Grandma the stories she once told them.

Korngold and Fortenberry move beyond sentimentality to real sentiment. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-14677-1191-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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