LULLABY FOR THE KING

Masterful prose and exquisite images combine for an unforgettable Nativity retelling.

Grimes and Carlos’ take on the birth of Jesus celebrates the majesty and diversity of the natural world.

As the story opens, the animals learn that the Holy One has been born, and they begin to make their way to Bethlehem, laden with gifts. Antelope brings an alabaster flask containing myrrh, while Lion brings a bronze bowl. Donkey carries dates and dried apricot cakes, while Crane brings a spoon made from ebony, and Jackal the Clever brings a linen sash and frankincense. Goat’s gift is a harp, while Leopard’s is a crown of electrum. At last, they all arrive in Bethlehem at the stable where Mary and Joseph are waiting with Jesus. All three present as Black; Mary and Joseph have Afro-textured hair, and Mary’s hair is in braids. Nightingale gives the first gift to the Holy One: the gift of song, which startles—and delights—the baby. The other animals, inspired, play their own instruments. Grimes’ lush verse is brought to life by Carlos’ vibrant, ornate art, which depicts the fancifully colored animals striking dynamic poses and carrying sumptuous gifts. The angels, depicted as ghostly white ephemeral beings, contrast beautifully with the multihued animal ensemble. Text and visuals strike a wonderful balance between whimsy and solemnity. Backmatter includes an original song with accompanying sheet music.

Masterful prose and exquisite images combine for an unforgettable Nativity retelling. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781506485621

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How To Catch… series

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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