People used to say that the streets of America were paved with gold, and this book almost makes you believe it.

OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS

This Hanukkah tale is deeply intertwined with its New York setting.

New Yorkers know that just about anything can be found in New York City: a waterfall in the middle of the block, a tiny museum in an elevator, lox-flavored ice cream. New York is full of miracles, and this book is nothing but miracles. Put on a ship by his parents after the rise of the Nazis in Europe, Oskar arrives in New York on the seventh day of Hanukkah (it is also Christmas Eve) and must walk 100 blocks uptown from Battery Park to the home of an aunt he doesn’t know. As he walks up Broadway, a woman hands him bread, and a young boy hands him mittens. Oskar whistles a duet, on the spur of the moment, with a man whom a poster reveals to be Count Basie. (Eleanor Roosevelt also makes a cameo.) These things happen in New York. When he said goodbye, Oskar’s father told him: “even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.” The blessings here are so bountiful that readers may not be surprised even when a newsstand vendor gives Oskar a copy of the very first Superman comic. Siegel’s paneled illustrations make anything seem possible. The people don’t look quite real, and they don’t look like cartoons. They look like chalk drawings on a sidewalk, just starting to fade. They glow.

People used to say that the streets of America were paved with gold, and this book almost makes you believe it. (historical note, map) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-949-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

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. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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

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