A jolly treat with a sweet acknowledgement of the gifts teachers give their students all year long.

THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE AT CHRISTMAS

In his third exploratory adventure, the gregarious Gingerbread Man scampers through town delivering gifts to community helpers.

As Christmas approaches, the Gingerbread Man goes back to school to help a classroom of kids prepare cards, cookies, and songs for their adult friends around town. With their teacher, the group delivers their gifts to a wide variety of adults in helping occupations, including workers in shops, offices, and on city streets. Both the schoolchildren and the community workers include people of different ethnicities, and the adult characters include a female police officer, vet, and doctor. The Gingerbread Man goes off on his own to deliver a special card to the baker who helped create him, and in return she makes him some new chocolate boots to protect his crumbling feet from the snow. Back at school the Gingerbread Man and the kids present their teacher with a touching tribute and a special thank-you banner. The rhyming text is patter-perfect, with lots of humor and action and nicely supported by busy, computer-generated illustrations with the story skillfully integrated in text blocks and speech balloons. The journey through town required a sophisticated design to include all the group’s stops, but their travels are clearly conveyed, even including a map of the community.

A jolly treat with a sweet acknowledgement of the gifts teachers give their students all year long. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16866-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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