THE REMARKABLE CHRISTMAS OF THE COBBLER'S SONS

This traditional Tyrolean folktale, which was retold by Newbery Medal-winner Sawyer in 1941, is being rereleased with new pictures by award-winning artist Cooney (Hattie and the Wild Waves, 1990, etc.). The resulting book, however, is a big disappointment considering the renown of its author- illustrator team. The story of goblin King Laurin who appears at the poor cobbler's hut and shares his wealth with the cobbler's little sons would be more appealing if King Laurin wasn't as abusive as he is generous. Why must he torment the boys, berating them and kicking them, before he hands over the loot? The language is also above the heads of three- to eight-year-olds who won't be impressed by the "comfits" that the goblin causes to tumble from the sons' pockets. Cooney's vanilla illustrations add little to the tale. Unremarkable. (Folklore/Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-84922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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TURKEY TROUBLE

From the Turkey Trouble series

Turkey’s in the “kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving...and you’re the main course.” Accordingly, Turkey tries on disguise after disguise, from horse to cow to pig to sheep, at each iteration being told that he looks nothing like the animal he’s trying to mimic (which is quite true, as Harper’s quirky watercolors make crystal clear). He desperately squeezes a red rubber glove onto his head to pass as a rooster, only to overhear the farmer suggest a poultry plan B when he’s unable to turn up the turkey. Turkey’s horrified expression as he stands among the peppers and tomatoes—in November? Chalk it up to artistic license—is priceless, but his surroundings give him an idea. Good fun, but it may lead to a vegetarian table or two. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5529-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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