One disastrous Christmas Eve, a year after the death of her parents, Emily sidesteps day care and surreptitiously follows Grandma Rose, a housecleaner, to Mrs. Bigley’s mansion, lured by her fascination with Delilah. This fabulous porcelain doll has luxuriated in Mrs. Bigley’s family for five generations, where, upon the catastrophic accidental death of her daughter, she has become the focus of Mrs. Bigley’s twisted, guilty fixation. It’s a potentially deadly journey Emily takes, as her subterfuge leaves her locked out in the cold before eventually reuniting with her grandmother. It’s just as critical a psychological quest for Mrs. Bigley, who must drop her psychotic attachment to the porcelain and lace, yet not as realistic as Emily’s. The two maneuver through their plot-driven scenarios, rushing toward a collision. The seriousness of Mrs. Bigley’s mental illness demands a more rigorous explanation of her cure than her decision to create a doll museum. Her growth and self-revelation, therefore, are as empty as the final pronouncement a year later that this holiday is “the happiest Christmas ever,” an unearned result of simplification and quick plotting. (Fiction. 8-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2121-3

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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