This easy-to-read comic adventure yarn, for all its simplicity, has real narrative momentum and a pleasing mess of puns, while Schindler’s fine ink-and-watercolor illustrations lend the tale an even greater merriment. Sam, Rodeo Rosie, and their Wild West Show are headed home for Christmas. “Suddenly Sam put his hand to his ear. ‘Hark!’ he said. ‘The herald angels sing,’ the cowboys and cowgirls sang. ‘No! Shhh!’ Sam said. ‘I hear crying.’ Everyone listened. ‘That sound is sadder than a partridge without a pear tree,’ Rodeo Rosie sniffed.” Turns out that a train has been robbed of all its Christmas presents. While the Wild West Show stays behind to brighten the spirits of the travelers, Sam and Rodeo Rosie follow a trail of torn wrapping paper to the bad guys’ hideout. And it’s not just presents the outlaws have swiped but the Man in Red himself. Sam and Rodeo Rosie catch the robbers with the help of some wicked fruitcakes and some fancy lasso work with Christmas ribbon on Sam’s part. The villains are jailed, the presents returned, then Sam and Rodeo Rosie help Santa drop off a few gifts, with Sam being lowered by rope down chimneys from his hot-air balloon. Best of all here is Antle’s (Lost in the War, 1998, etc.) delight in language, humorously conveyed to readers, as pure an encouragement as can be to keep turning the pages and a good introduction to the pleasures of wordplay. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8037-2199-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000


While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016


A well-intentioned but misguided effort.

A celebration of Christmas in the March family has been adapted as the text for this oversized picture book, with lavish illustrations of the family enjoying the holiday together.

The March sisters enjoy a happy Christmas morning, with special gifts for their sister Beth, who has been in poor health. Their celebration becomes more joyful yet with the surprise arrival of Mr. March, who has been injured in the Civil War. The illustrations are dark and moody, reflecting the somber nature of a household with a father away at war and the realities of 19th-century illumination. There are continuity issues in both text and illustrations. Jo’s age does not seem consistent throughout the book, with one close-up view showing a girl who looks about 12 and others with her looking older. Beth is referred to as the youngest daughter, rather than the second youngest, and she is shown with blonde ringlets instead of Amy, as in the original. It is too bad there is no author’s note giving more specifics about Louisa May Alcott, the original story, the time frame of the Civil War and the New England location. It’s hard to identify the intended audience for this effort, as those who love the original already will likely be unhappy, and those who don’t will lack the context necessary to enjoy it.

A well-intentioned but misguided effort. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1359-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Close Quickview