What do you get when you cross one of America’s most successful comedians with one of childhood’s most sacred days? A very funny picture book . . . for adults. Seinfeld’s (SeinLanguage, not reviewed) maiden effort for a child audience reads exactly like one of his stand-up routines: “. . . the first time you hear the concept of Halloween when you’re a kid, your brain can’t even process the idea. You’re like, ‘What is this? What did you say? Someone’s giving out candy? Who’s giving out candy? EVERYONE WE KNOW is just giving out candy?’ ” The narrative moves back and forth from the second-person address to a presumed adult audience to recollections of his own travails as a trick-or-treater. Parts are just gut-splitting, as when he finally gets his coveted Superman costume-in-a-box and realizes that the cruel reality is that it that it looks more like “Superman’s pajamas.” Magazine illustrator Bennett contributes high-energy paintings that depict a chubby-cheeked, youthful Seinfeld in a variety of dizzying perspectives that capture the momentum of the text: the bowed profile of child-Seinfeld trudging out the door in his baggy Superman costume, lantern-jawed plastic mask—and the winter coat his mother makes him wear—is priceless. But however well executed technically, it’s still, deep down, not a book for kids; the stance of the narrative necessarily demands a backward-looking audience, not an audience that is still living the experience of Halloween. Kids will like the bright illustrations and the consuming enthusiasm for candy, but ultimately there’s not much else there for them. The publisher labels the book for “all ages”—change that to 30-50, and you’ll get a much better match of product to audience. (Picture book. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-316-70625-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002


In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999


Miranda’s book counts the monsters gathering at a birthday party, while a simple rhyming text keeps the tally and surveys the action: “Seven starved monsters are licking the dishes./Eight blow out candles and make birthday wishes.” The counting proceeds to ten, then by tens to fifty, then gradually returns to one, which makes the monster’s mother, a purple pin-headed octopus, very happy. The book is surprisingly effective due to Powell’s artwork; the color has texture and density, as if it were poured onto the page, but the real attention-getter is the singularity of every monster attendee. They are highly individual and, therefore, eminently countable. As the numbers start crawling upward, it is both fun and a challenge to try to recognize monsters who have appeared in previous pages, or to attempt to stay focused when counting the swirling or bunched creatures. The story has glints of humor, and in combination with the illustrations is a grand addition to the counting shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201835-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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