Enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

PICK A PUMPKIN

Readers follow a family from picking pumpkins through carving a jack-o’-lantern to trick-or-treating around the neighborhood in this rhyming, artful picture book.

A family picks pumpkins from the patch on the farm: “Vivid orange, / ghostly white, / or speckled green / might be just right.” Back at home, they prepare their space, invite “a friend or two— / form a PUMPKIN-CARVING CREW!” Cleaning out the pumpkin’s inside gets especially sensory treatment: “Lumpy chunks. Sticky strings. / Clumpy seeds. Guts and things.” All the variations of eyes, noses, and mouths (“A smirk. A snarl. / An eerie O. / Or pointy fangs, / all in a row” complete the carvings. Then it’s time for decorations, costumes, lighting the jack-o’-lanterns “to guard your house / while you have fun.” The illustrations use pencil, chalk, paint, and digital color with hues of purple and orange against blue and pink backgrounds to create a feeling of fall and dusk. The story moves from family to friends to a panoramic view of the street lined with jack-o’-lanterns in the final spread, capturing the magic of seasonal traditions. The nearly flawless rhythm of the text is a pleasure to read and will likely become a favorite. The family is interracial, with a black dad, Asian mom, and biracial kids.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0764-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Preachy and predictable.

RUBYLICIOUS

From the Pinkalicious series

Pinkalicious is excited to add the 100th rock to her rock collection.

Her brother, Peter, is not impressed. He thinks the rock looks dirty and that it isn’t special at all. When the siblings try to rub the rock clean, though, something wonderful happens: A magical figure emerges in a cloud of red smoke. Rather than ask her name, Pinkalicious and Peter tell her they will call her Rocky. Rocky accepts the new name and nervously says that she can grant the children a wish. But every time the sister and brother make a wish, Rocky initially grants it and then talks them out of it. When Peter and Pinkalicious wish for a gigantic mountain of sweets, for instance, a timorous Rocky shows them how eating so much sugar harms their bodies. When the children wish that they could fly, Rocky shows them how dangerous flying can be. When they wish to live in a castle, Rocky gives them a palace that is too large and cold to be any fun. In the end, Pinkalicious and Peter decide that the best wish they can make isn’t for themselves but for Rocky—a decision that leads to even more magical results. This latest series installment underwhelms. In addition to the arbitrary plot and wooden dialogue, Pinkalicious and Peter come across as maddeningly entitled. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Preachy and predictable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305521-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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