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WE WISH FOR A MONSTER CHRISTMAS

A humorous concept held back by uneven verse and a less-than-memorable monster.

A sister and brother ask Santa for their own furry monster for Christmas, causing mayhem in their household after the holiday.

The unnamed siblings decide on a “furzilla,” described in a catalog of designer monsters on the front endpapers. The older sister and her brother plan how they will care for their monster, and Santa promises he will deliver on their request despite their parents’ objections. The huge, hairy beast is friendly to the children, but he eats furniture, destroys the playroom, and blows his nose on the mother’s dress. He is banished to the backyard, where he successfully serves as a night guard and garden helper. The children think about asking Santa for monkeys the following Christmas, with a final, wordless spread showing the havoc multiple monkeys might cause. While the concept and plot progression are humorous, the rhyming text is rather stilted, with a singsong rhythm and some scansion problems; it's meant to be sung to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," but readers may find that a challenge. The family is multiracial: the father is white, and the mother has brown skin and straight, black hair. Minor characters include adults and children of different ethnicities. The children are appealing characters, but the monster is rather a furry blob who doesn’t quite come to life.

A humorous concept held back by uneven verse and a less-than-memorable monster. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1894-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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