A winner of a story with enchanting illustrations by a master.

THE CHRISTMAS BOOT

A poor and lonely woman finds a black boot in the snow, which leads to magical transformations just before Christmas.

Hannah Greyweather leads a solitary, hardscrabble life in her mountain cabin. When she tries on the newfound boot, it immediately changes shape to fit her foot perfectly. When she wishes for the boot’s mate, it mysteriously appears the next morning, followed by a pair of red mittens. Hannah then wishes for a feather bed, fine food, and a fancy house, all of which magically appear without explanation. But when a white-bearded man in a red suit comes looking for his missing boot, all the magical developments disappear. The unnamed visitor provides Hannah with new boots, mittens, and a puppy for companionship before he departs into the night sky with his sleigh and reindeer. The original story flows like a folk tale, with a fine blend of dialogue and description. Dramatic tension and humor result from Hannah’s unfamiliarity with Santa, and children will enjoy being in on the identity of the red-suited visitor. Pinkney enhances the strong text with his delightful watercolor illustrations filled with homey details and swirling snowflakes. Both Hannah and Santa have ruddy complexions, and both seem like real people rather than storybook characters. An extra-large trim size, high-quality paper, and a thoughtful design add to the book’s overall appeal.

A winner of a story with enchanting illustrations by a master. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4134-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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