This muddled effort tries hard to be cute and clever, but it doesn’t stand out among the many excellent choices available...

READ REVIEW

THE SNOW ANGELS' CHRISTMAS

The Nativity story is retold from the viewpoint of helpful snowman-shaped angels.

The story opens with the Snow Angels in the sky over the town of Nazareth, pouring buckets of snowballs from the sky. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem with the help of the Snow Angels. The Snow Angels pack for the trip, wash the donkey, and shovel the deep snow on the road. They prepare the stable in Bethlehem and are the first visitors to see baby Jesus, and they alert the shepherds and the wise men of the baby’s arrival. While the basic elements of the traditional Nativity story are included, the prominent role of the Snow Angels is rather confusing, as they seem to be the main characters in the story, driving the plot. The characters of Mary and Joseph are also problematic, as the illustration style makes them look like children, even though Joseph has a beard. All the human characters have pink skin and darker pink cheeks that echo the round, pink cheeks on the Snow Angels. The double-page–spread illustrations are flat and rather amateurish in execution, with awkward stick arms on the Snow Angels and little variation in perspective or in the Snow Angels themselves.

This muddled effort tries hard to be cute and clever, but it doesn’t stand out among the many excellent choices available for Christmas Eve reading. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-124-6

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Seagrass/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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