Gorgeous illustrations make this one sure to fly off shelves “like the down of a thistle.” (Picture book. 3-8)

DASHER

HOW A BRAVE LITTLE DOE CHANGED CHRISTMAS FOREVER

An origin story for Santa’s “eight tiny reindeer.”

Nearly two centuries after “A Visit From St. Nicholas” originated Santa Claus’ “coursers” and “called them by name,” Tavares offers readers their backstory, centered on “a brave young doe named Dasher.” First, the frontmatter notes “a time…when Santa’s sleigh was pulled…by a single horse, named Silverbell.” Ensuing pages depict not a wintry scene of Santa and Silverbell but a parched landscape with a crowd of people peering at penned reindeer as part of the cruel J.P. Finnegan’s Traveling Circus and Menagerie. Illustrated details in clothing and material culture suggest a 19th-century American setting, but the focus is on the animals’ cramped misery. Though kind children provide solace through carrots and smiles, Dasher’s main comfort comes from her mother’s stories of a northern homeland with “crisp, cold air and cool blankets of white snow.” One windy night, the pen’s gate blows open and Dasher escapes. While following the North Star, she encounters Santa (depicted as a white-bearded white man) and a weary Silverbell and offers to help pull the sleigh. Tavares’ art is at its best in such magical scenes, which fairly beg to be made into Christmas cards, but the storytelling falters due to the ease with which the other reindeer escape when Santa grants Dasher her “best wish yet” and rescues her family.

Gorgeous illustrations make this one sure to fly off shelves “like the down of a thistle.” (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0137-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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

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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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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