Full of layers to peel back, consider, and discuss.

THE LITTLE ONE

A mysterious creature befriends a young girl and leads her to a magical realm in this curious but comforting first-person tale.

On her way home through a pleasant Japanese neighborhood, a bob-haired Japanese girl’s curiosity is piqued by a silent, black, kodamalike creature which only she can see. First, she spots the creature patiently awaiting the bus, then she spies it sitting among the bonsai of a sidewalk plant stall. So, she follows it down an alley, under a fence, through a Japanese-style garden and into a traditional Japanese minka house, where the two drink tea. Beckoned further, the child enters a dark closet and is led through an attic door to an enchanted forest. Together, girl and creature romp across wordless spreads, their fun wrapped in quietude, until they fall asleep cozily on an enormous fluffy forest creature. After waking and parting ways with her newfound companion, the girl sees her daddy, and they walk home hand in hand. It is unclear if the adventure is a dream or a supernatural event, but the escapade appears to satisfy the child’s longing for her mother, who is hinted as absent. Clarity on this point may have been lost in translation from the original Japanese text, or perhaps Tanaka purposefully left the story open to interpretation. Black-and-white copperplate etchings skillfully juxtapose the ordinary world with the shadowy wonderland, where luminescent fireflies and flowers glow. Unfortunately, the specter of a stranger leading a child into a dark closet gives serious pause in an otherwise poignant and engrossing narrative.

Full of layers to peel back, consider, and discuss. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-358-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween.

PUMPKIN MAGIC

Magical moonbeams awaken a pumpkin patch to raucous Halloween-season revelry.

A moonbeam illuminates and energizes a smiley-faced pumpkin sitting alone on a stair; it promptly takes off to find a friend with whom to have a good time. An entire pumpkin patch, also sparked by the magical moon, instantly comes alive. And what merriment all the grinning gourds get up to! Their playful shenanigans include piling high on top of one another, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing, marching, and drumming, wearing costumes, and competing in games. They even engage in activities usually reserved for other holiday-themed icons—flying on brooms and making magic, for instance. As dawn approaches, the pumpkin leader escorts the cavalcade back home. At sunrise, each one takes up residence on a different house’s front porch and awaits that evening’s moonbeams to work their magic again. Liveliness and good cheer abound in this frisky rhyming tale in which the perennial holiday symbols naturally take center stage. Perky couplets that read and scan very well appear on most pages and are accompanied by energetic, expressive illustrations that highlight vivid oranges, yellows, blues, purples, and greens with touches of other bright shades.

Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-56332-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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