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

READ REVIEW

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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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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