This pleasing story might well inspire some homemade Christmas gifts or even an outdoor Christmas morning breakfast with a...

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A HOMEMADE TOGETHER CHRISTMAS

As they decorate their tree together, a family of anthropomorphic pigs decides to make all their Christmas gifts instead of buying them.

The story focuses on Luca, the son in the family of four, who struggles to come up with an idea for a gift he can create by himself. He writes down all sorts of ideas, but everything is too hard or out of season. With suggestions from his family, he tries origami birds, homemade granola, and a snow-bear sculpture, but nothing works out quite right. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he uses the remains of his previous projects to create a jar of 365 ideas for “Together To-Dos”—activities for the whole family to experience throughout the year. On Christmas morning, the first activity chosen is to “watch the sunrise from the porch.” So the family does that while sharing Momma’s gift of a tree-shaped stack of blueberry pancakes. They are kept warm by Dad’s gift of a family-sized quilt as they are entertained with sister Rosie’s original Christmas song. The story is satisfying in both length and emotional tone, with everyone contributing to the family’s celebration in a meaningful way. Charming watercolor illustrations of the porcine household include amusing clothing for all the pigs and a cozy home decorated for Christmas.

This pleasing story might well inspire some homemade Christmas gifts or even an outdoor Christmas morning breakfast with a tree-shaped stack of blueberry pancakes. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3366-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A rite of passage seen through the lens of a favorite literary pal.

LLAMA LLAMA LOOSE TOOTH DRAMA

From the Llama Llama series

Llama Llama loses a tooth for the first time.

All of the wiggling can make having a loose tooth fun, but there can be some worry, too. How will it fall out? There is a tooth fairy? What does she do? Llama Llama is distressed. “Is it fun? / Or is it scary? / Just who, exactly, / IS this Fairy?” Luckily, Mama is there to help. “The Fairy’s great. She’s kind and funny. / She takes your tooth / and leaves you money.” Llama Llama is on board with that! Appropriately, exactly how much money is never specified, but the tiny llama fairy is shown carrying a bag stuffed with bills. Hopefully she has many houses to visit. Gram and Grandpa have lots of ideas on how to get the tooth to fall out, but Llama’s tooth stays put until bedtime. Suddenly, Llama realizes his tooth is gone: “OH NO. / Where is that tooth? / Where did it GO?” Will the tooth fairy come if the tooth is lost? The comforting cadence of the rhymes paired with warm, textured hues soften all the drama. As in the other posthumously published Llama Llama books, Morrow’s textured paintings emulate Dewdney’s definitively lined renderings. The fluttering llama fairy, along with Llama’s stuffed llama, whose wide eyes notice all, will delight eagle-eyed readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 41.8% of actual size.)

A rite of passage seen through the lens of a favorite literary pal. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20603-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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