ON ANGEL WINGS

Blake and Morpurgo, both former holders of the British children’s laureate honor, join their considerable talents in this touching Christmas story aimed at both older children and adults. In first-person narrative, a grandfather recalls for his grandchildren his amazing adventure long ago when he was a shepherd boy on the night Christ was born. On that night, the boy was sad to be left behind when his father and brothers went off to visit the baby born in Bethlehem. The angel Gabriel appears to the boy and flies him to the stable as the baby’s first visitor, where he leaves his shepherd’s crook as a gift for the baby. The grandson hearing the story has been doubtful about its veracity all his life, but on this Christmas Eve, he too sees the angels singing as his grandfather did. Morpurgo’s story is lyrically written with a bracketing introduction and conclusion by the grandson. His graceful prose makes the unlikely story seem quite concrete and possible. Blake’s distinctive illustrations in watercolor and ink amplify the text with small spot illustrations on most pages and larger illustrations in glowing gold and red of the angel Gabriel. (Fiction. 7-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3466-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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