A CHRISTMAS LIKE HELEN’S

Kinsey-Warnock’s poetic, understated text proves to be well-suited to Caldecott Medalist Azarian’s subtle, hand-colored woodcut illustrations, in this second collaborative effort set in the Vermont farm country that both know from experience. This story describes a little girl’s life during the Christmas season around 1900, using the repeating structure of “To have a Christmas like Helen’s, you’ll have to . . . ” as a means of introducing all the different activities, types of work, and special experiences in her young life. Helen is the youngest of seven children, and her family’s tender love for their little girl is evident in their many caring ways, especially in the closing pages when Helen’s father takes her to the barn to see a newborn foal on Christmas Eve. Azarian is a master at capturing New England life in her woodcuts, showing the farmhouse, barn, one-room schoolhouse, and wintry white fields of Helen’s world. Her beautifully composed and carefully researched illustrations draw the reader into Helen’s era, into a quieter time of candlelight, sleigh bells, and family stories shared around the woodstove. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2004

ISBN: 0-618-23137-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2004

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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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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THE HALLO-WIENER

Oscar (last name: Myers) is a sweet, sensitive dachshund who is troubled by his unique appearance (``half-a-dog tall and one- and-a-half dogs long''). He looks like a hot dog and his friends never let him forget it, until Oscar's unusual physique saves the day. Raising this story above clichÇ and bringing it poignancy is Oscar's goodness, which shines almost perpetually. When his mother makes a Halloween costume in the shape of a frankfurter, he bravely wears it even though he knows it means ridicule. He doesn't give up on his friends; in fact, this nice guy finishes first. In paintings steeped in autumn colors, puns abound and so do loony visual jokes, but the telling is simple, comical, and fast. Pilkey (Kat Kong, 1993, etc.) demonstrates his kinship to both Rosemary Wells and James Marshall with a book that has moments of high comedy, lowbrow humor, and good old-fashioned heroics. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-590-41703-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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