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THE SUGAR PLUM TREE

A bright, bold picture book about a world of sweets.

The Sugar Plum Tree stands at the heart of a magical gardena wonderland for children with good imaginations—in this debut children’s tale.

This picture book is the work of three sisters, working together under the pen name Katherine James. According to the authors, they based it on a bedtime story they were told many times throughout their childhood, in which they traveled to a world made of candy in their dreams. The next morning, they would wake to find that some candy returned with them, in the form of goody bags that they’d find under their beds. Clearly, this book is intended as a bedtime story, as it begins with the phrase, “Come little child cuddle closer to me / as you lay your sleepy head down,” and later adds, “Now sleep little child, dream all through the night to make your wishes come true.” The Garden of Shut-Eye Town, where the Sugar Plum Tree resides, is a candy-loving child’s fantasy, full of chocolates, lollipops, “fizzy pops and zippity-zaps.” The tree itself bursts with as much candy as a child could want. It’s too high to climb, but luckily, a chocolate cat and gingerbread dog are there to help children out. In order to accurately mirror the authors’ childhood tradition, the book closes with a promise of more candy to come: “And when you awake, tradition has said magically there will be / candy treasures beneath your bed, for those who believe... / in the Sugar Plum Tree.” The verse is paired with bold, colorful illustrations. Here, the focus is on the candy, and the bright, cartoonish images make it hard to miss; children, as well as the aforementioned cat and dog, appear largely at the periphery. Although the overall story might be too saccharine for some readers, the bright colors and verse effectively depict the magical land. However, the book does make a promise that parents might be expected to keep when the story is done.

A bright, bold picture book about a world of sweets.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-6515-85004-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: LilyLu & TT2 Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2014

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CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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