Mannered, yes. Containing advice on manners? Not so much.

GOLDILOCKS FOR DINNER

A FUNNY BOOK ABOUT MANNERS

Mind your manners? Don’t mind if they do!

Having lost the ickiness contest in Who’s the Grossest of Them All? (2016), buddies Troll and Goblin have now abandoned entirely any desire to be disgusting themselves. Instead, they’ve turned their attention toward children, those “wretched” little beasts that they consider uniformly rude. Concocting a plan, the two decide to find the rudest child and have it for dinner. Turns out, this is more difficult than planned. Mistress Mary is just contrary, and Simple Simon merely gross. However, when the two hear about Goldilocks, they know they’ve found the kid they want for dinner. The twist at the end is that old chestnut in which the two seeming baddies want to have Goldilocks over for dinner so they can teach her good table manners (never mind that of all her breaches of etiquette, Goldilocks’ behavior during mealtime is hardly her greatest sin). The cartoony illustrations are rendered in ink with digital colors, and the incorporation of Sunday-funnies–style Ben Day dots into them is certainly striking. Caregivers misled by the subtitle may expect more manners tutelage than the book delivers. As a story of baddies thwarted, but not for the reasons you’d expect, it’s passable. As a manners book, don’t expect the Emily Post seal of approval. All humans in the story are pictured as white.

Mannered, yes. Containing advice on manners? Not so much. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55235-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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