Safe—if unexceptional of content (and physically problematic in library settings).


A front-cover advent calendar with die-cut flaps cues 24 seasonal activities for the run-up to Christmas.

Between guidelines for a letter to Santa on Dec. 1 and the full text of “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Dec. 24, Hickey assembles a mix of amusements. These include games, recipes, luminarias and other crafts, jokes (“How does a sheep say ‘Merry Christmas’?” “Fleece Navidad!”), and songs—plus retold versions of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and The Nutcracker. The illustrations, as cozy as the contents, offer festoons of evergreens and ornaments and depictions of tidy homes and small businesses nestled closely together in snowy landscapes; yummy treats; and wrapped gifts. Sweater-clad figures (both white and people of color) celebrate in various combinations before all coming together in a crowded living room to open presents on Christmas morning. Except for the occasional carol and hanging star, it’s a secularized and nonsectarian view of the holiday season, but the values of sharing, giving, eating together, and otherwise valuing family and community all receive proper notice. With the exception of the luminarias, traditions depicted skew toward generic Western European/North American observances.

Safe—if unexceptional of content (and physically problematic in library settings). (Novelty anthology. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7407-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Tidings of comfort and joy laid on with a trowel but not much regard for texts or traditions.



From the Jesus Storybook Bible series

A version of the Nativity story with 10 narrative or musical sound clips followed by abbreviated Bible stories and devotional thoughts for each day of Advent.

Drawn from Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (2007) with some anonymous interstitial text, the stories begin with a young girl “minding her own business” until Gabriel drops in to give her the heads-up: “He’s the One! He’s the Rescuer!” In Jago’s harmonious, cleanly drawn cartoon illustrations, most of the human characters have brown skin in a variety of shades, including (eventually) a brown-skinned baby Jesus, whose head is topped with tight, black curls. The familiar tale continues up to the appearance of “three clever men” from the East (one cued as East Asian with stereotypical Fu Manchu facial hair) in Bethlehem. It is punctuated with pressure-sensitive spots that each activate 15 to 20 seconds of either a well-known Christmas hymn or a reading by David Suchet in a plummy British accent. Twenty-four shorter daily episodes, mostly Old Testament passages with the gory bits left out, follow to offer (purported) prefigurations of God’s “Secret Rescue Plan” as revealed in the New. These range from a massacre-free version of Joshua’s entry into Jericho and (wait for it) “Daniel and the Scary Sleepover” to the parting of the Red Sea, which is incorrectly identified as the origin of Passover.

Tidings of comfort and joy laid on with a trowel but not much regard for texts or traditions. (Novelty/religion. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-310-76990-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A heartwarming slice of neighborly love, caring, and sharing.


A Jewish man and his family perform good deeds for non-Jews on Christmas Eve.

Al Rosen, who celebrates Hanukkah, loves Christmas, a holiday of “peace on earth and goodwill to humanity.” He does good deeds, or mitzvahs, for neighbors, at first taking the Christmas Eve shift at the local newsstand so the regular clerk can spend the night with his family. Later he goes on the radio to volunteer to work for Christians on Christmas Eve. His labors take him from grocery store to mail room to parking lot to barn. For many years he performs these many different jobs by himself and sometimes with his son and grandchildren, becoming a “local legend.” People of other faiths, Christian and Muslim, then return the favor on the Jewish High Holidays for Al and his family. But “years piled up like drifts in a blizzard,” and one year Al is too old—but in a grand finale, all join together to light the Hanukkah menorah: It’s a veritable “throng of God’s children.” An author’s note references the real Al Rosen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who performed these acts starting in 1969. The brightly colored, busy illustrations fill the pages with a nicely diverse collection of active and energetic folk working and smiling as a community.

A heartwarming slice of neighborly love, caring, and sharing. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939547-94-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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