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

LITTLE SANTA

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. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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