The moment is a little miracle—nearly impossible to believe, but entirely convincing and true.

READ REVIEW

HANNAH'S WAY

Sometimes the tiniest actions are the most heroic. In this book—based on a true story—the heroes are children.

Illustrator Gustavson is very good at painting eyes. Even when the characters have their eyelids closed, it’s easy to read their expressions. Mostly they look nervous. Hannah is nervous because she might have to miss her class picnic. Her family won’t drive on the Jewish Sabbath; she’s the only Orthodox girl in a school in rural Minnesota. In every picture, Hannah looks nervous in a slightly different way: shy when she’s a new student, timid and regretful when she tells her father about the picnic. “Just because there are no other Jews…” he says, “doesn’t mean we forget the ways of our people.” Hannah thinks: “I don’t want to follow the ways of my people… I just want to go on my class picnic.” On the second-to-last page, she has to speak up in front of the entire class. Her eyes are pointed at her desk.  “I—I can go if someone will walk with me,” she whispers. And in one brief, moving sentence, all the students raise their hands to volunteer. In this picture, their eyes are barely visible—they’re tiny scribbles of paint—but they seem to be filled with joy.

The moment is a little miracle—nearly impossible to believe, but entirely convincing and true. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5138-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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