Despite these minor quibbles, a new edition of any of Brown’s work is a gift worth celebrating.

CHRISTMAS IN THE BARN

Brown’s Nativity story, first published in 1952, is updated with new art from the illustrator of the popular Llama Llama series.

The poetic, simple text follows Joseph and Mary as they are shown into the barn, where the animals wait. After the baby is born, the shepherds and wise men arrive, and an overhead perspective shows the whole cast of characters surrounding the newborn, “all safe and warm.” Dewdney’s striking, mixed-media paintings have a loose, post-impressionistic flavor, with some areas showing her brush strokes or the texture of the canvas surface. She employs a variety of perspectives and sometimes shows characters as dark, incomplete silhouettes. The faces of the animal characters have the most personality, while the faces of the humans are less distinct and sometimes even blurry. Two of the wise men have dark skin; the other people have light skin. Brown’s short, rhyming text is accessible and satisfying, with clever inclusions of well-known phrases from traditional Christmas carols, and her characteristic mastery of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition is on full display. Not all of her word pairs are exact rhymes, but they work nonetheless. One page includes the rhyming word pair grass/ass, which may require some explanation, as well as the unfamiliar word “kine,” an archaic plural for cows.

Despite these minor quibbles, a new edition of any of Brown’s work is a gift worth celebrating. (Picture book/religion. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237986-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.

PEPPA'S GIANT PUMPKIN

From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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