A placid story with a welcome message, even if it lacks subtlety.

THE MOUSE WHO CARRIED A HOUSE ON HIS BACK

Vincent the mouse’s extraordinary house expands to make room for all in need of shelter.

In this generosity-themed fable, Vincent carries his invisible house, stopping where “he knew…he needed to be” to teach a forest of animals that “in my house, all animals are welcome.” His first guest is a weary bullfrog who doubts he can fit inside the tiny animal’s home. But the interior, shown in warm, cozy shades of cream, grows to fit the frog, a hungry cat, a family of damp hedgehogs, and, eventually, a whole group of forest critters gathering together to feast in the magical house. An enormous bear’s arrival tests the group’s tolerance, as they fear he might “eat us!” or “squish us,” but Vincent’s brave insistence that all join in saves the day. Smooth, often repetitive language that’s deliberately formal creates an atmosphere as snug as a cat consuming “fresh honeycomb and warm milk,” though the overt messaging about inclusiveness feels a tad heavy-handed. Delicate gouache, ink, and cut-paper illustrations in a subdued palette mirror the quietness of the text, and seeing the home's interior colors brighten in contrast with the dull drizzle outside is especially satisfying. Bear’s teddy bear–like dimensions are somewhat unfortunate, as they are so benign that they remove any possibility of tension from the story. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A placid story with a welcome message, even if it lacks subtlety. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1679-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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