A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver.


From the I Am Otter series

Garton continues his popular series about roly-poly Otter (I Am Otter, 2014, etc.) with this simple story about the joys of eating Easter candy and sharing (or not) with others.

Otter (established as a female in previous stories) lives a childlike life with her white, adult owner, Otter Keeper, shown only in partial glimpses of legs or an arm. The other characters are Otter’s beloved, inanimate toys: a pig, a giraffe, and a limp teddy bear with X’s for eyes. On Easter morning, Otter gobbles up all the candy before breakfast even though she is told to share with her stuffed-animal friends. Feeling guilty, she transforms herself into the Easter Otter and prepares an elaborate Easter egg hunt. Candy-bright colors against white backgrounds capture Otter’s antics and expressions, leading up to a detailed, double-page spread of Otter’s backyard. The stuffed animals seem especially lifeless in this scene, lying flat on the ground until Otter drags them around to find the hidden eggs. In an unsatisfying conclusion, Otter states that the stuffed animals decided to “share” their eggs with her, and all the eggs are shown in a box labeled “Otter’s Eggs.” While this may be intended as wry humor, Otter’s selfish attitude and self-satisfied declaration that she’s “saved Easter” give this story a sour flavor rather than the lighthearted, humorous sweetness that made previous Otter stories successful.

A holiday tie-in that fails to deliver. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236667-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.


From the How To Catch… series

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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