Sure to be a hit at Halloween, Mother’s Day, during a discussion about puns and when the popular question arises, “So what...

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WORKING MUMMIES

In this ode to hardworking mummy mothers, an impressive collection of careers is introduced with deliciously icky details sure to elicit appreciative “eww’s.”

With a palette dominated by saturated purples, greens, oranges and reds, a detailed, fantastical monster city comes to life. Alongside dragons, ghosts and one-eyed monsters, female mummies contribute their various talents to serve their bustling community. Readers meet a diverse cast, including a brave manicurist who specializes in sharpening claws, a doctor who prescribes “coffin syrup” to cure raspy moans, a waitress who serves frightening bowls of “Scream of Wheat,” a realtor who sells haunted dwellings and a dentist who expertly files vampires’ fangs. Each mummy expertly tackles the challenges of her profession whether it be working the graveyard shift or taming a classroom of rambunctious goblins. But in the end, “no matter where the mummies work— / In diners, stores, or schools— / They can’t unwind until they’re home… // To hug their boys and ghouls.” Kozjan obviously had fun creating the full-bleed spreads that successfully extend the humor in Horton’s well-paced, rhyming text. Readers will not mind the message delivered amid the amusing wordplay and clever, elaborate illustrations.

Sure to be a hit at Halloween, Mother’s Day, during a discussion about puns and when the popular question arises, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-38524-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family.

THE BROKEN ORNAMENT

Jack needs some magic to help make this year’s Christmas the best ever.

Shiny, red-foil borders and embossed lettering on the cover invite readers into a suburban household of the mid-20th century. On Christmas Eve, Jack is dissatisfied with the decorating job that he and his parents have done. He finds one last ornament, but his mother says in alarm, “Not that one!” Jack accidentally breaks it, leaving his mother in tears. A tiny fairy called Tinsel appears with tinkly bells to help Jack fulfill his wish. Saying, “let’s deck these halls!” Tinsel tosses glitter, and a large tree bursts through the floor. Caroling elves burst through the door, followed by reindeer, nutcrackers, and snowmen. Double-page–spread illustrations show the house filled with holiday fun. (Children will wonder why Jack’s parents don’t seem to notice it, though.) Jack can’t get enough of the magic, but remembering the broken ornament, he asks Tinsel for help. She can’t give him a new ornament but does offer him a glimpse of his mother’s past that helps Jack understand his mother’s heartbreak and see a way to make amends. Slightly overlong landscape design, old-fashioned furnishings, and endpapers filled with ornaments give this a feeling of personal reminiscence. Jack, his parents, Tinsel, and two of the elves present white, but the third elf has brown skin.

A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3976-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time.

SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED

Which cottage would stand out more in a real estate ad: cute or…haunted?

Clarissa the sentient cottage dislikes cuteness; as a pink, adorable haven for flowers and squirrels, she’s bored. She yearns to be scary and haunted like her father, a gloomy castle, and her mother, a smelly, vermin-infested witch’s hut. Dad gladly donates clouds but tells Clarissa it’s OK to be herself. The clouds are a bust because they bring rain, which brings forth…a rainbow, plants, and birds. Mom supplies a reeking bottle whose contents allegedly repel living things. Clarissa opens it but…attracts playful dogs. Finally abandoning her desire for a ghostly boarder, Clarissa invites her animals to remain. At the end, a particular creature’s unexpected arrival—and its most uncharacteristic behavior—reveal Clarissa’s true nature: horrible and cute. And she’s just fine with that. This rhyming story is certainly an unusual take on the finding-oneself trope. The bouncy verses mostly read and scan well, include sophisticated vocabulary, and provide Clarissa with a spunky, appealing personality. Different typefaces represent the voices of Clarissa, each parent, and the narrator. The cheerful, lively illustrations are very colorful but a trifle twee; Clarissa and her parents are differentiated through vivid pinks, dreary shades, and anthropomorphic faces. Nature blossoms via bright depictions of flowers, trees, animals, and birds.

Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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