An enjoyable if not groundbreaking collection of stories that could be read throughout the month, as intended, or as a...

SANTA'S COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

24 DAYS OF STORIES

In this Canadian import, Santa and his helpers prepare for Christmas with 24 stories keyed to each day of December leading up to the holiday.

Each double-page spread includes a golden ornament with the day’s date, a full-page illustration, and a one-page story about Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves. The characters at the North Pole are white, with the elf crew including both males and females and one senior elf with gray hair. A pre-Christmas visit from Santa includes children of different ethnicities. Throughout the month, the elves prep the sleigh, make toys, put Santa on an exercise program, and nurse Rudolph through a bout of the flu. Santa is an old-fashioned, outspoken fellow who supervises and gives directions, with lots of jolly expressions like “Jumpin’ jingle bells!” and “Cracklin’ candy canes!” The 24 stories are entertaining, with such humorous touches as the elves adding GPS to the sleigh and inventing an overly enthusiastic Supersonic Gift-Wrapping Chicken. Cartoon-style illustrations use a flattened perspective, neon-bright colors, and comical touches like oversized, red glasses on Mrs. Claus. The cover illustration and the first story include a calendar page for December with European-style numerals 1 and 7 that will need explanation to most U.S. children.

An enjoyable if not groundbreaking collection of stories that could be read throughout the month, as intended, or as a longer story in a single session. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-2-924786-05-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chouette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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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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