Committed fans of the first two books may be pleased, but this comes across as more coffee-table self-indulgence on the part...

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THE REINDEER WISH

The creators of The Christmas Wish (2013) and The Tiny Wish (2015) return with their daughter for another extravagantly photographed Nordic adventure.

Only-child Anja is lonely, so she writes weekly letters to Santa asking for a sibling or, preferably, a puppy. Taking a break after skiing one Christmas Eve, she learns from the cardinal that introduced her to Santa Claus the previous year of an abandoned reindeer, which she takes home and names Odin. Together they grow and flourish in the spectacularly beautiful Norwegian countryside. When, one day, Odin tears up while watching a herd of wild reindeer pass, Anja knows it’s time to say goodbye. Rather than set him free, she takes him to Santa to join his “herd of magic reindeer”—and is given a puppy as consolation. While blonde, chubby-cheeked Anja is cute as a button, particularly in her various Norwegian folk costumes, and the countryside is breathtaking, the freshness that marked her first outing has definitely worn off. Too many of the compositions look like photo collages, damaging the verisimilitude, and the syrupy text is both overlong and poorly paced. Exactly how Odin came to be abandoned is never addressed, and Anja’s problematic adoption of this wild creature is skirted.

Committed fans of the first two books may be pleased, but this comes across as more coffee-table self-indulgence on the part of the creators than a picture book with broad child appeal. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37921-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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