Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires.

READ REVIEW

GLORY ON ICE

A VAMPIRE HOCKEY STORY

Vlad’s search for relief from boredom has him signing up for ice hockey.

With his batwing cape, gray pallor, and pointy ears, nose, and teeth (not to mention the pronounced widow’s peak), Vlad looks comically menacing in the Count Dracula style. Hearing a group of children planning to “pound,” “crush,” and “destroy” their opponents is what first attracts Vlad to the idea, after he ventures from his mist-shrouded castle to the local community center. Vlad (with the “best hockey equipment that treasure plundered from ancient gravesites could buy”) falls in love with the sport, watches hockey videos, dreams of playing in the Olympics for Team Transylvania, and works to learn how to skate, pass, and shoot. People—like the salesperson at the hockey store—seem to react with some trepidation around Vlad, but his kid teammates (never named but diverse in racial presentation and including at least one who presents as a girl) are supportive and unperturbed, and a teammate’s mom helps him with his skates before practice. Vignettes of game play show Vlad in an enforcer role, elbowing his opponent in the head and shouting from the penalty box as an opposing player trips one of Vlad’s teammates. Though his team loses 57-0, it’s clear that Vlad has “come to love hockey even more than he loved chasing after terrified mortals.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.8% of actual size.)

Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1451-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more