Although much talent is evident in this creative pairing, the result lacks overall appeal for the picture-book crowd; save...

THE BOO! BOOK

An engaging narrator, together with magical illustrations that often conjure surreal scenes, lets readers in on all there is to know about haunted books and how to be a good owner of one.

“Everyone has heard of haunted houses,” but “not many people know that books can be haunted too.” Book ghosts are likely “to meddle with stories and turn them upside down” or occasionally scramble the words on a page. It's important not to offend book ghosts, and their book should not be read “on the anniversary of the day the ghost first took up residence” in it. Readers “who make this mistake get sucked up into the book….” Lachenmeyer’s fantastical story comes to life in the artful hands of Ceccoli. Employing a technique that utilizes Plasticine puppets, digital photography and acrylics, she will have readers feeling as though they have entered the book ghosts’ deep, watery blue world, full of bubbles and populated by bizarre creatures such as a balloon-headed doll and swimming eyeballs. Children could be either fascinated or unsettled by the story’s premise, but few will deny the captivating quality of the pictures. Characters appear to have a lifelike sparkle in their eyes, and the transparent, ice blue ghost comes across as more mischievous than scary. The book ends on an upbeat note and with an unnecessary pop-up.

Although much talent is evident in this creative pairing, the result lacks overall appeal for the picture-book crowd; save for children with patience and a taste for the surreal. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3513-1

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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