A warm embrace of a book.

“My family loves me, and I love them. But we don’t use words to say ‘I love you.’ ”

As a child narrates, readers see a smiling mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather bustle about a cheery, colorful home doing chores. The narrator explains how each family member expresses their love with actions: Mom “stirs her love into a pot of steaming xī fàn” (Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien words are sprinkled throughout and defined in a glossary), Ah Gong walks the child to school in the morning, Ah Ma packs a lunch of noodles, and Dad cheers and encourages from the sidelines of a soccer game. The child also shows love, saying, “I do my best at school so they can feel proud.” Some readers may wonder: Is Chen implying that the family’s reticence when it comes to verbally expressing their love is rooted in their being Chinese? Or is this a Chinese family that happens to be less verbally demonstrative? That’s left up to readers to decide; regardless, it’s abundantly clear from the detailed spreads and expressiveness of the characters that they are full of love for one another, with or without words. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A warm embrace of a book. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42839-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


In the market for an understated Christmas classic? Behold! A Christmas miracle!

A dynamic picture-book duo turn their attention to one of the great mysteries of our time.

For those literal-minded children out there, this book serves to answer some essential questions about basic Santa-related logistics. We all know that Santa is supposed to go down the chimney to deliver gifts, but how? “Does he cinch up his belt? Or shrink himself down to the size of a mouse?” That particular speculation is accompanied by an image of a small Santa standing on the edge of a chimney looking down into the abyss. Synched perfectly with Barnett’s gentle yet hilarious questions and often silly propositions (“Or does he slip through the pipes and come out of your faucet?”), Klassen’s tan-skinned Santa is as funny and expressionless as a bearded Buster Keaton. Curiosity runs wild as Barnett ponders everything from Santa doing the laundry in children’s basements to his ability to get along with every household dog he meets, while Klassen’s there to bring each possibility to life. Don’t look for any definitive answers in this story, though. As the last line states, “Santa goes up the chimney the same way he comes down. And I have no idea how Santa does that. But I’m so glad he can.” For all that it leans heavily on absurdity, this book exhibits some serious heart. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In the market for an understated Christmas classic? Behold! A Christmas miracle! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781536223767

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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