The ending is touching enough that the story is almost as vivid as the people in the pictures.

WHO WILL ASK THE FOUR QUESTIONS?

Ben-Ami’s illustrations in this Israeli import by way of the U.K. are so expressive that readers can understand the plot just by looking at the characters’ faces.

There are only three things to know. First: A brother and a sister get into a horrible fight just before the Passover Seder. Second, and maybe the most important: They both love music. She’s always singing, and he’s always strumming an apple-green guitar. And third: By the end of the meal, they’re both singing together again. Readers can learn most of this from the characters’ mouths and foreheads: the boy’s dismissive laugh when his younger sister tries to sing and, in the same picture, her one angry, cocked eyebrow. The only major detail readers need to learn from the text is the actual subject of the argument. At a traditional Seder, the youngest child sings the four questions, a chant that explains the meaning of the holiday, but in this family, the older child, brother Eitan, doesn’t want to give up the job. The problem is solved in a way that’s both entirely predictable and satisfyingly surprising. Evie struggles with the words, and Eitan joins in to help her out. Throughout the meal, just about everyone is smiling. (The characters are all white and mostly related.) But in these illustrations, each person’s smile is distinctly, beautifully unique.

The ending is touching enough that the story is almost as vivid as the people in the pictures. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78438-463-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Green Bean Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more