Hold the peanut butter and stick to milk and cookies for Santa.




The third picture-book collaboration by McGee and Santoso (Peanut Butter & Aliens, 2017, etc.) takes a stab at holiday festivities.

Reginald the zombie, Zarfon the alien, and Abigail Zink, “the smartest girl in Quirkville,” are “eager and excited for Santa’s visit.” But then a terrible storm prompts the mayor to announce that “CHRISTMAS IS CANCELED.” The trio of friends is determined to “help Santa out of that storm.” They head out in Zarfon’s spaceship, loaded with (what else?) peanut butter. When they see the North Pole they quickly discover that the storm isn’t blowing snow all around but rather marshmallow. Santa explains that “the marshmallow cream factory has gone bonkers!” and Zarfon has the bright idea to stuff the factory’s chimneys with peanut butter. This stops the storm for a bit, but then there’s a marshmallow-and–peanut-butter explosion. The combination is nothing short of delicious, so they make sandwiches and then Santa hitches his reindeer to the spaceship (because its engines were clogged), and they sail off to deliver the goodies for Christmas. While fans of prior books may enjoy this one’s familiarity, the story is…a bit of a mess, and the art mostly replicates the action of the text without doing much to help things stick together.

Hold the peanut butter and stick to milk and cookies for Santa. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3634-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.


Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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