A readable, mildly amusing story, but the message is obvious and the motivation is lacking.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MARY CHRISTMAS!

A family with the last name of Christmas celebrates the holiday in over-the-top style, but their daughter Mary is less than enthusiastic.

The family’s Christmas tree is far too large, they have massive piles of gifts, and their house has so many lights that power to their neighborhood is interrupted. Mary wishes her family’s Christmas were not so lavish, and she tells the department-store Santa all about it. Santa advises her that she needs to find some way to love Christmas herself. On Christmas morning, Mary convinces her family to change their ways, and they pack up their tree, presents, and lights, tying everything on top of their van in comical fashion. They invite everyone in town to a Christmas party, and the community works together to set everything up in a park for a celebration on Christmas night. The story has an obvious message, that excess at Christmas can spoil the holiday, though Santa doesn’t agree with that. There isn’t much underlying motive for Mary’s attitude (it doesn’t seem to be rooted in her name) nor explanation of why her family celebrates to such excess and then abruptly changes. Cartoon-style illustrations in bold colors create a busy, humorous effect with a huge cast of background characters of many ages and ethnicities. The Christmas family and Santa are white.

A readable, mildly amusing story, but the message is obvious and the motivation is lacking. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9261-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along.

THE CRAYONS TRICK OR TREAT

The Crayons return in time for Halloween as vampire-costumed Purple coaches the dressed-up wax pack through its first trick-or-treating venture.

It takes five houses’ worth of door-knocks for this skeleton crew of seven to perfect the protocol, with enough outlandish flubs to generate giggles in Halloween-savvy preschoolers. At Door No. 1, Orange, dressed as a jack-o’-lantern, says, “Give us your candy, Lady.” At the next, the gang, encouraged by Purple to “think holiday,” responds with an impressive array of misguided greetings, including “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy American Cheese Month!” Later, White, levitating impressively in a ghost costume, overreacts to Halloween’s “scary” aspect by overwhelming residents with a “BOO!” Peach, unnamed here but recognizably wrapperless from the initial title, exuberantly (and inappropriately) repeats, “I’m naked!” Finally, the troupe perfects its treat-inducing line, though a certain ghost cannot resist an ad lib. This excursion, like many of the holiday-themed Crayon books, has a smaller trim size, a lower price point, and far less complexity than Daywalt and Jeffers’ first two Crayon titles. Still, the pair deftly let young children in on the jokes through funny, hand-lettered dialogue and the visually telegraphed, all-in haplessness of this well-branded band. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-62102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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