This book should round out every holiday collection.

THE REAL SANTA

A Black child loves Santa but wonders what the “real Santa” looks like.

Santa’s brown face is all over this family’s home, on tree ornaments, gift wrap, and sweaters. When Grandma and Grandpa arrive to spend the night on Christmas Eve, Black Santa waves from their car window. A collection of Santa figurines adorns the mantel. The joyful protagonist adores all his Santas, but his parents and grandparents can’t help him figure out which one is the real Santa or what the real Santa looks like. The family prepares for Santa’s visit, reads a story together, and says goodnight. But the child creeps back downstairs and spends the night under the tree, trying to stay awake to see the real Santa. Of course, he falls asleep before Santa arrives, but there’s a lovely surprise when he is carried off to bed. This heartwarming depiction of a loving Black family experiencing a beloved holiday is a delight to behold and is just what many have been waiting for. In one spread, every member of the family wears matching red pajamas and green socks. The boy’s question about Santa’s appearance steers readers through the pages with a feeling of curiosity and suspense that is fully rewarded at the end: There’s no suspension of disbelief required and just a touch of magic. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This book should round out every holiday collection. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17814-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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