With characteristically uncloying gentleness and a conscious use of familiar devices that is neither burlesque nor banality, the Hobans depict an affectionate otter family (just Emmet and his widowed mother) in a softly glowing old-fashioned setting. Outdoing O. Henry's Magi, both Emmet and his mother secretly enter the pre-Christmas amateur contest, each hoping to win the $50.00 prize and buy the other a Christmas present. To enter, Emmet makes a hole in his mother's washtub, her means of livelihood, so he can play it in the Frogtown Hollow Jug Band; his mother in turn pawns Emmet's tools, with which he does odd jobs for the neighbors, for a dress in which to perform as a singer. Both contestants lose, of course, for into this fondly pictured scene comes The Nightmare, a woodchuck group complete with light man, who perform the Riverbottom Rock and Swampland Stone in silvery, spangled costumes. "Well, we took a chance and we lost. That's how it goes," agree the losers, and walking home on the river Ma Otter and the Frogtown Hollow Boys sing so pleasantly that old Doc Bullfrog, digging their "real down-home sound," offers them a steady gig at his Riverside Rest home. Wherever your home, it's a real down-home Christmas story.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0437467074

Page Count: 41

Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.


From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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