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THE MOUSE WHO CARRIED A HOUSE ON HIS BACK

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

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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

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

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. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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HOW TO CATCH A DADDYSAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

This frenetic ode to fatherhood is predictable fare but may please series fans.

It’s time to look for the elusive Daddysaurus.

In this latest installment in the seemingly never-ending series about a group of diverse kids attempting to trap mythical creatures, the youngsters are now on the lookout for a big mauve dinosaur with an emblazoned D on his stomach and a superhero cape. The fast-moving Daddysaurus is always on the go; he will be difficult to catch. Armed with blueprints of possible ideas, the kids decide which traps to set. As in previous works, ones of the sticky variety seem popular. They cover barbells with fly paper (Daddysaurus like to exercise) and spread glue on the handle of a shovel (Daddysaurus also likes to garden). One clever trick involves tempting Daddysaurus with a drawing of a hole, taped to the wall, because he fixes everything that breaks. Daddysaurus is certainly engaged in the children’s lives, not a workaholic or absent, but he does fall into some standard tropes associated with fathers. The rhyming quatrains stumble at times but for the most part bounce along. Overall, though, text and art feel somewhat formulaic and likely will tempt only devotees of the series. The final page of the book (after Daddysaurus is caught with love) has a space for readers to write a note or draw a picture of their own Daddysaurus. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This frenetic ode to fatherhood is predictable fare but may please series fans. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-72826-618-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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