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

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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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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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