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THE FAIRYTALE CAKE

The text may run to just a few words per page, but the pictures in this heavily populated outing invite lingering as dozens of European nursery rhyme and folktale characters gather to prepare a huge cake, and then wheel it down the road to the house of a lucky birthday boy. Like Carol Jones’s Gingerbread Man (2002), the Jolly Postman series and the like, this becomes a test of cultural literacy, made even more challenging by the lack of identifying commentary: How many of these figures, rendered in Langley’s informal cartoons as young-looking folks and animals in antique costume, are recognizable? Is that the Knave of Hearts? There’s Bo Peep, searching for her sheep on one page, and finding them on the next. That whiskered officer must be the Grand Old Duke of York, and look, there’s the Gingerbread Boy riding one of a trio of little pigs. All gather at last to wish the starry-eyed lad a “Happy, Happy Birthday!” as he makes ready to blow out the candles. With guests like these, how could it be otherwise? (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-439-68329-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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ON THIS SPECIAL NIGHT

A group of farm animals is drawn together by an unusually bright star shining over a stable in their neighborhood in this sentimental Nativity story. The narrative focuses on a gray kitten who is tenderly cared for by his mother in their home in a barn. They follow the other animals to the stable under the star, and as a group they enter and stand before the straw-filled manger in the final spread. The kitten describes his great happiness at this special baby, but unfortunately the baby is not shown in the illustration, which may leave readers confused and dissatisfied. Though Mendez’s large-format illustrations are appealing and the simple story is accessible to preschoolers, the ending demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the needs of this age group, who need to see to believe. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-10486-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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HAPPY EASTER FROM THE CRAYONS

Let these crayons go back into their box.

The Crayons return to celebrate Easter.

Six crayons (Red, Orange, Yellow, Esteban, who is green and wears a yellow cape, White, and Blue) each take a shape and scribble designs on it. Purple, perplexed and almost angry, keeps asking why no one is creating an egg, but the six friends have a great idea. They take the circle decorated with red shapes, the square adorned with orange squiggles “the color of the sun,” the triangle with yellow designs, also “the color of the sun” (a bit repetitious), a rectangle with green wavy lines, a white star, about which Purple remarks: “DID you even color it?” and a rhombus covered with blue markings and slap the shapes onto a big, light-brown egg. Then the conversation turns to hiding the large object in plain sight. The joke doesn’t really work, the shapes are not clear enough for a concept book, and though colors are delineated, it’s not a very original color book. There’s a bit of clever repartee. When Purple observe that Esteban’s green rectangle isn’t an egg, Esteban responds, “No, but MY GOSH LOOK how magnificent it is!” Still, that won’t save this lackluster book, which barely scratches the surface of Easter, whether secular or religious. The multimedia illustrations, done in the same style as the other series entries, are always fun, but perhaps it’s time to retire these anthropomorphic coloring implements. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Let these crayons go back into their box. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-62105-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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