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SILENT NIGHT

A standout among books to share on Christmas Eve.

Stunning illustrations bring new life to a well-loved Christmas carol.

Using only the familiar carol’s lyrics as the text, the story of the Nativity is gorgeously brought to life. Mary and Joseph journey through the hills of Galilee on their way to Bethlehem. Hawthorne boldly paints the night sky black, against which a mosaic of colors stands out like stained glass. Importantly, and perhaps just as boldly, she depicts the Holy Family as dark-skinned. In a Middle Eastern style of portraiture that finds echoes in early Christian art, the geometric, quiltlike design in gouache evokes the serenity of the words. One can picture a family quietly singing this book aloud, allowing the eye to linger on images of twinkling stars, angels, pomegranate trees, and animals spilled across perfectly paced pages. The characters are portrayed with a variety of brown skin tones, but the darkest belong to Mary and Jesus. On the last spread, as the sky becomes a deep blue, the perspective pulls back to reveal the stable in the full hillside setting. With the moon and stars above, the words “Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace” bring the story to a close. The full text of the carol is provided at end along with information about its Austrian origins.

A standout among books to share on Christmas Eve. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78603-066-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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