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LITTLE SANTA

His red suit and his smile make little Santa stand out in his glum family, and this amusing story stands out in a similar...

Santa’s origins are explained in this novel, quirky exploration of how Santa, the elves and the flying reindeer found their callings.

Little Santa is the youngest child of a hardworking family eking out a hardscrabble existence at the North Pole. The whole family, except for Santa, hates their hard life, and they decide they will relocate to Florida. When a major blizzard buries everyone inside, brave Santa takes his snowshoes and a sack of food and goes up the chimney to seek help. With perfectly reasoned logic, the text unfolds like a folk tale, with Santa finding everything he needs, such as a flying reindeer and talented elves who can make shovels and a sleigh. The elves climb aboard the sleigh to fly back to the North Pole with Santa, where they make themselves useful improving the homestead. Santa’s family moves to Florida the next winter after all, and “you know the rest of the story.” Agee’s polished prose has the ring of authenticity, and it’s a satisfying story that adults won’t mind reading again and again. The minimalist, cartoon-style illustrations use thick outlines and a muted palette except for Santa’s adorable, bright-red suit with pointed cap.

His red suit and his smile make little Santa stand out in his glum family, and this amusing story stands out in a similar way as a cheerful, original Christmas tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3906-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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