SANTA’S LAST PRESENT

Julian is a boy of seven or eight who doesn’t really believe in Santa any more, though he plays along to please his parents. On Christmas morning he receives an extra present under the tree, one that surprises both Julian and his parents. He finds a toy train engine with life-like eyes that can shine in the dark, and it becomes Julian’s favorite toy through the following year. During the next Christmas season, Julian isn’t sure what to believe: he writes a note to Santa telling him that his parents will now provide the gifts, but Julian also leaves the train engine under the tree with a note to return it to Santa, since Julian feels it was probably left in error the year before. On Christmas morning, Julian is amazed to find three rainbow-hued train cars attached to his toy engine, and his faith in Santa is restored through this last, special gift. Blake’s loose watercolor-and-ink illustrations and the volume’s small size complement the whimsical nature of the story. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-56145-319-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2004

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GRETCHEN GROUNDHOG, IT'S YOUR DAY!

A good choice for curriculum-boosting an underrated holiday. Poor Gretchen Groundhog is very shy, but this year, it’s her turn to pop out of the hole on February 2nd to tell everyone whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Great-Uncle Gus, too old for the job, offers Gretchen plenty of encouragement, but she just doesn’t think she can manage with all those people. Then her human friend, Hester, the town historian’s daughter, comes to visit with a box of old writings. Gretchen reads the words of other shy groundhogs from the past, e.g., Goody Groundhog who came on the Mayflower, George Groundhog who served at Valley Forge, etc. Gretchen realizes that she can face the crowds, just as her illustrious ancestors did, even before the official inauguration of Groundhog Day in 1887. Illustrations in soft pencil show appealing townspeople, an elegantly dressed little groundhog, and a charming burrow, complete with a picture window, stone fireplace, and a computer with Internet access (“You Have Mail”). Simple and sweet. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8075-3058-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.

THE SUPER-SPOOKY FRIGHT NIGHT!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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