A sweet ode to and pleasant reminder of the Christmas spirit.

THE CHRISTMAS PINE

London’s Christmas tree tells its own story.

Narrating in first “person,” a lovely pine describes, in gentle, lilting rhyme, its journey from seedling to tree. Like other trees before and others that will come after, the pine sprouts from a seedling in Norway, grows to a majestic height, then is cut and transported the long distance to the U.K. When set in place, it proudly stands, resplendently decorated, in London’s Trafalgar Square, where it’s watched over by the statue of Adm. Nelson, atop his towering column, and the majestic lion statues surrounding its base. Cheery throngs come and go in the square, fireworks light up the night, and children frolic and sing around the tree, an annual gift from Oslo’s mayor to the U.K. since 1947, in thanks for Britain’s aid to Norway during World War II. This is a charming homage to the holiday season, expressed from an unusual point of view. Children should appreciate gaining some insight into where some large, civically displayed trees may have come from and how they came to be placed on public view. The delicate illustrations effectively contrast the bright greenery, deep blues, and striking winter whites of the Norwegian forest with the lighter colors of London’s day and night skies. Some of Trafalgar Square’s iconic buildings are also on view, as is a vivid red double-decker bus. Adult and child characters are racially diverse; one child is depicted using a wheelchair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet ode to and pleasant reminder of the Christmas spirit. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82927-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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