An unsuccessful adaptation.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

Carey’s zillion-selling Christmas song is paired with pictures that put a slightly different spin on the original’s romantic yearning.

A picture of mini-Mariah hugging a white-and-brown terrier puppy on the cover establishes the tone. As the story opens, the little girl walks past a storefront advertising “Puppy Love Adoption” and spends the next several pages incorporating dogs into her Christmas preparations: she draws pictures of dogs and makes dog-shaped cookies, a dog puppet, a snowdog, etc. Around her, her siblings likewise prepare, sometimes in clever counterpoint. Mini-Mariah sits reading a book about dogs while her siblings compose comically extensive lists as the text reads, “I won’t make a list and send it to the North Pole for Saint Nick.” Madden creates a standard-issue snowy American suburb with a pleasingly multiethnic cast of characters. Carey’s own ethnically mixed heritage is hinted at with an African-American grandmother and Caucasian grandfather; the protagonist’s siblings all have light-brown skin and short, curly, dark hair. This creates a jarring dissonance with mini-Mariah, who is depicted with her signature flowing, blonde locks flopping conspicuously over one eye. Readers familiar with the song will wonder how any picture book might jibe with Carey’s vocal rendition, suffused with sexual longing in its first verse, but the mood of the pictures matches the song’s overall pep. The book’s biggest problem is that the direct address to “you” throughout the song is developmentally out of sync with the younger members of its audience, who will be thinking, “Who, me?” instead of the hoped-for dog every time the text iterates “you.”

An unsuccessful adaptation. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-55139-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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