A mediocre, bland offering for the holiday shelf.

A WATERMELON IN THE SUKKAH

A child’s favorite fruit creates a challenge for his class when it comes time for the annual ritual of decorating the classroom’s Sukkah, the traditional outdoor hut for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Michael arrives at school with a choice fruit, following his teacher’s request to bring in a favorite one. As the children prepare to hang their bananas, pears, grapes and oranges, Michael realizes that his large, round, heavy watermelon will be difficult to suspend, as is the custom, from the open-air latticed roof of the Sukkah. Ideas abound: a basket of sorts could be made from lots of string, or rubber bands, or tape….Disappointed but not discouraged, Michael tries a hammock-style approach made from a large piece of fabric and four hooks, and to everyone’s surprise, it works. Perhaps a pumpkin will be next? Stock cartoon faces dominate the colorful gouache paintings of a Judaic school. The story, too, feels dutiful rather than inspired, an off-the-shelf plot to fill a niche rather than a meaningful celebration of this joyous holiday.

A mediocre, bland offering for the holiday shelf. (note) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8118-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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