THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT

A STORY OF THE NATIVITY

Cooper’s distinctive oil-wash paintings add depth and personality to a worthy entry in the long list of tales about bringing gifts to the Christ Child. This smoothly told story focuses on Ameer, a kennel boy (and most probably a slave) for one of the Magi who are following the star to Bethlehem to see the “Baby King.” Ameer owns a white dog named Ra who is the boy’s loyal best friend and only possession of value. As the caravan of the Three Kings approaches Bethlehem, Ameer worries about what gift he might offer, as everyone is taking gifts of some sort to the baby. When he finally meets the Holy Family in the stable, Ameer leaves his beloved dog behind to watch over the Christ Child and his parents. The well-written text is full of rich language and dramatic moments, concluding with the Ra prancing along at the head of the procession on the flight into safety in Egypt. An author’s note gives details of a white dog often seen in Renaissance paintings of the Nativity. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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