SAM’S WILD WEST CHRISTMAS

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

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 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Still a holiday to believe in—“even if believing looks a little different this year.”

ALWAYS TOGETHER AT CHRISTMAS

Safe and socially distant ways to celebrate the joys of Christmas.

There is no direct reference to the pandemic in the text. Instead, to Sargent’s lyrical reminders that Christmas is a time to cherish our families, friends, and neighbors, Chambers pairs festive scenes featuring family groups with one or two children decorating indoors, sitting well spaced around a campfire, or gathering via video hookup. These family groups reflect generational diversity as well as, possibly, at least one family with same-sex parents. On a world map children (one in a wheelchair) stand on different continents and wave at one another. Multiple Santas (both White- and Black-presenting, but the one at the North Pole presents White) deliver gifts while wearing protective masks. (Most of the people celebrating do not wear masks, though one family gathers for a holiday selfie wearing matching red plaid pajamas and masks.) Aside from one nighttime picture of a bright star illuminating a cross atop a church steeple, there is no religious iconography. The author avoids mention of Christian practices too, though she offers several specific suggestions for safe alternatives to traditional secular activities at the end. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 95% of actual size.)

Still a holiday to believe in—“even if believing looks a little different this year.” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-38084-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

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