THE CHRISTMAS THINGAMAJIG

A young girl named Chloe is reluctant to enjoy Christmas because of her beloved grandmother’s recent death in this bittersweet, well-told story. As part of their family holiday celebrations, Chloe’s grandmother created handmade Christmas ornaments that she called “thingamajigs,” and she and Chloe would decorate the tree and then dance around it together. Chloe is understandably sad and tries not to participate in the Christmas preparations, but her understanding grandfather patiently and wisely talks to her over several days, helping her to remember and honor her grandmother and their special traditions. In a sweet conclusion, Chloe and her grandpa dance a “thingama-jig” around the tree together. While making effective use of the powerful emotional setting of a family Christmas celebration, Manuel’s (Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, not reviewed, etc.) gracefully told story transcends the holiday genre, as this could be a valuable work at any season for anyone (including adults) who has lost a parent or grandparent. Benioff, in her first work for children, does a fine job of bringing the characters to life, especially Chloe. Her jewel-toned paintings of the present contrast with sepia-toned illustrations that recall fond memories of earlier days with Grandma. The spreads that include both timeframes connect gracefully through various shared connecting devices: open doors, an old tree with spreading branches, or an open window, linking the past to the present. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-525-46120-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach.

THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY

The you-know-what hits the fan after a lad’s parents rashly allow him to pick a theme for his birthday party.

Julian insists, and so after the party store poops out, everyone sets to cranking out homemade poop-up invitations, “poopsicles” and “lollypoops,” costumes, and games like “Pin-the-Poop-on-the-Toilet.” But will anyone drop in? Do they ever—in such massive streams that even the local news team catches wind of the event. Better yet, dancing the “Doo-Doo Doo-op” to tunes from the Dookie-Poo band and whacking the poop piñata, everyone has a blast. The party assumes such legendary status that news of it spreads around the world, prompting Julian and his family to create a graphic instruction manual together. Galán goes to town with swirling scenes in saturated hues with lots of brown, featuring hyped-up figures with wide eyes and huge grins. Julian’s family appears to be an interracial one, with an Asian-presenting dad and White-presenting mom whose attitudes modulate from disgust to delight over the course of the story. Readers inspired to organize poop parties of their own will find models for suitable decorations in the pictures. A caveat: The recipe for poop slime that Berger applies to the tail end uses glue and baby oil, among other ingredients, but is not labeled as inedible. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23787-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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