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THE BEST GIFT FOR BEAR

Sure to sweeten holiday traditions with the true spirit of friendship.

A tale about gifts, friends, and tasty treats.

Hedgehog bakes gingerbread cookie gifts for her friends: The mice’s cookies are shaped like snowflakes, the squirrels’ are shaped like trees, and the rabbits each get a specially decorated rabbit cookie. But what about Bear? Bear is a special friend, after all. When Hedgehog arrives back home after delivering gifts, she sees the frosted roof of her cottage and is inspired. In step-by-step illustrations, she creates a wonderful gingerbread house for Bear—one that’s even bigger than Hedgehog herself. The journey to deliver the finished house begins smoothly, but a whipping wind soon reduces the gift to crumbs. Bear rescues Hedgehog from the storm, and later, in the safety and warmth of home, Bear admits to making a mess of Hedgehog’s gift earlier in the day and notes that they were planning to try again tomorrow. Happily, this admission leads to the best gift of all. Recipes for spice-laced gingerbread cookies and honey frosting begin the book, and perhaps all those spices keep this simple story about friendship and holiday gift giving from becoming too saccharine. Hedgehog is adorable, wearing emerald-green earmuffs, baking up a storm, and snuggling in a teacup bed. A bright-red ribbon winds through the story, artfully separating flashbacks from the present, linking baking steps, and focusing attention on important images. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sure to sweeten holiday traditions with the true spirit of friendship. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2922-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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