THE QUILT THAT GAVE A HUG

In Kaldenberg’s debut children’s book, a young child meets a special baby and presents him with a gift that embodies the spirit of the season.
Young Benjamin spends his first night out in the fields with his father, who watches over the family’s flock of sheep. A heavenly light descends upon the shepherds, and from here, the story dovetails with the familiar tale of the birth of Jesus. The shepherds, called to witness the event, seek out the manger in Bethlehem. When Benjamin sees the baby, he decides to give him his own patchwork blanket, which has given him so much comfort and security. He then leans over to tell the newborn about how the quilt “gives a hug.” The book ends with the hope that the love of that special baby will envelop readers, just as wrapping oneself in a quilt feels like an embrace. It’s a fitting analogy that effectively references the holiday’s religious basis without conveying overwrought Christian morals. This inventive take on Christ’s birth deals in the story’s broad strokes, as told from Benjamin’s perspective. After the heavenly hosts fill the fields with light, for example, the book’s straightforward prose shifts: Benjamin tells of his journey to Bethlehem with the muddled, mystified air of an eavesdropper, as he overhears adults discussing angels, a baby and something significant that he can’t quite understand. This hushed confusion, however, gives way to the simple joy of human connection when Benjamin offers his little finger for the baby to grasp. Readers, too, may undergo a similar revelation when Benjamin’s story turns out to be the story of another little boy altogether. Benjamin’s willingness to give his only possession to the baby echoes the biblical lesson about the birth of Christ and God’s gift of love to the world. Illustrator Bonham’s rich watercolors give the boy’s cherubic appearance a sense of innocence and warmth.

A subtle twist on the well-known story of Christmas.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500154226

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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