A heartwarming tale of the magic of Christmas, but adults will need to be ready to help children past the rough spots.

READ REVIEW

ONE CHRISTMAS WISH

A little boy finds a box of old ornaments that come to life on a special Christmas Eve.

Theo’s parents have left him alone with a distracted babysitter. Despondent, Theo makes a wish on a shooting star “to be un-alone.” A rocking horse, a robin, a tin soldier, and an angel wake up to keep him company. Each has its own distinctive personality—the rocking horse eats everything in sight, the little robin has forgotten how to sing, the angel would love to have real feathers for her wings, and the soldier pines for his own true love. They head outside for an evening full of joyful adventures. Rundell’s writing is delightful, but it’s marred by several non sequiturs and discrepancies between text and art. Illustrations throughout clearly show Theo clad in striped pajamas. Yet the text says “Theo thought about his heart, beating hard under his four layers of sweaters.” When Theo and his ornament friends find a princess doll in a toy store, the line “Theo lifted down her box” is followed by “Theo looked up at the doll,” who’s depicted in place on the upper shelf. But great care was given to the book’s beautiful design. Spacious text wraps around illustrations; wide borders are sometimes filled with pictures, and the pages open up to perfectly placed, colorful double-page spreads. Theo, his family, and the humanoid animate toys all present white.

A heartwarming tale of the magic of Christmas, but adults will need to be ready to help children past the rough spots. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9161-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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