THE BIGGEST LITTLE BOY

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Luca loves big things, but he learns that sometimes small things are just right.

Luca lives in a big city, and he loves big things, from big trucks and big buildings to big dogs. But he especially loves big trees. Luca has always tried to climb the biggest tree in Triangle Park, because climbing a big tree makes him feel big. He finds it tough being small in the big, busy city, surrounded by big people who are always looking up. As Christmas approaches, Luca decides he wants to get the biggest Christmas tree in the whole city. But the trees at the Christmas tree market aren’t big enough for Luca. One day, while walking through the market with his mom, looking up at the not-big-enough trees, Luca trips over something. It’s a small tree, about his size. He smiles at the tree. The tree seems to smile back. Luca knows that this tree is special, and when he brings it home and decorates it, Luca feels big. The story ends with an explicit statement of a heartfelt sentiment that could have been left simply to be felt through the story itself, but until that point, the pacing and the character’s yearning are just right, delivering an engaging story that small children will relate to. The sweet, pleasantly varied illustrations depict Luca as a brown boy with curly hair and freckles; his mom appears Black, and his dad presents as White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Delightful and resonant. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20457-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more