A magical, wholesome Christmas read.

THE GREAT PJ ELF CHASE

A CHRISTMAS EVE TRADITION

In this picture book, two boys plan to catch Santa’s elves on Christmas Eve when they deliver new sets of pajamas.

Santa’s elves are on a mission to give all the good children of the world not toys, as one might expect, but new pairs of pajamas. Through the use of a magical crystal ball, Santa’s elves check to make sure children are taking their baths on Christmas Eve, and then they leave a brand new set of pajamas just outside the bathroom door. But brothers Jack and Ben are determined to finally catch an elf. They concoct a daring plan to capture one through traps and a net, luring it with cheese and using their dog as a lookout. However, the boys prove no match for the mischievous elves, who cause quite the mess—squeezing out toothpaste and hair gel and ransacking bedrooms. Ben eventually runs outside in the cold wearing only a towel, which he promptly loses. Luckily, his brother is there to return it. The story is written using a simple rhyming structure, which adds a musical touch: “This Christmas Eve gift / is amazing, that’s true. / But the boys know what’s / coming: Elf hullabaloo!” Colorful illustrations vividly bring the action to life through detailed characters and elaborate backgrounds. The elves, hidden on all the pages (at the end of the book, the authors ask readers to count all the elves they’ve spotted), have playful, impish smiles, and where text appears, touches of red and green and holiday decorations adorn the pages. The downside of the rhyme scheme is its impact on dialogue: No dialogue tags are used, and two speakers are often found in the same stanza, so it can be unclear who’s speaking. While the text is sparse on action—the only exciting scene being Ben chasing the elves outside—the charming illustrations make up for the lack of plot.

A magical, wholesome Christmas read.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482724622

Page Count: 40

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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