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HARRIET AND GEORGE’S CHRISTMAS TREAT

Fruitcake, that proto-matter, one of the only unnatural substances known to have survived The Flood, seems to exist mainly for a good joke. And two of Carlson’s (How About a Hug?, p. 1022, etc.) favorite characters have their own run-in with it here. It’s Christmas time and Harriet and George spy Ms. Hoozit coming out of the grocery store. Naturally, they quake in their boots: “Ms. Hoozit is making fruitcake!” With dismal memories of befouled taste buds and shattered teeth dancing in their heads (though also with happy memories of using the cake to crack nuts), the two do their best to hide from Ms. Hoozit and her force-fed fruitcake. They are successful, though Harriet’s brother gets nabbed. When Harriet and George go to commiserate, they learn that Ms. Hoozit hasn’t made fruitcake this year, but rather some delicious fudge. Making themselves conspicuous, George and Harriet get invited in for a Christmas treat. They rub their greedy paws, then learn that all the fudge is gone. Fear not; Ms. Hoozit has something for them—remnants of last year’s fruitcake. What goes around, comes around—and fruitcake? It’s the gift that keeps on giving. A simply marvelous story that has to be accompanied with a slice of well-aged fruitcake. Carlson’s wonderfully gawky, innocent artwork adds immeasurably to the tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57505-506-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS

The words to a Christmas song from the 1950s serve as the text for this exploration of a most unusual Christmas gift. An unnamed little girl in pink pajamas is the first-person narrator, explaining in detail why she wants a hippopotamus as her present. Various views of the hippo are shown in a slightly confusing, nonlinear time sequence, but then why would time proceed in a straightforward fashion with a hippo in the house? Santa is shown pushing the hippo through the door, and the following pages show the little girl caring for her hippo, unwrapping it as a Christmas package (a different packaging treatment is shown on the cover), and then flying off with Santa as the hippo pulls the sleigh. Though the little girl and the words to the song are rather ordinary, the lively, lavender hippo in Whatley’s illustrations is a delightful creature, with a big, pink bow on its head and expressive, bulging eyes. (In fact, that hippo deserves a name and a story of its own.) The music and song lyrics are included in the final spread. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-052942-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2005

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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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