There’s a subtle lesson here to slow down and evaluate before making a decision. But with this book, a snap judgement holds...

PRESENTS THROUGH THE WINDOW

A TARO GOMI CHRISTMAS BOOK

This year Santa is in a big hurry with his Christmas Eve deliveries. In fact, he’s so rushed that he is delivering packages by helicopter.

He dashes up to each house, takes a quick peek in the window, and tosses in a present for the sleeping animal or child with an accompanying comment in a speech balloon. The windows are die-cut shapes in the right-hand pages, with each one revealing just a small portion of the sleeping resident. After the first present is delivered, Santa’s snap judgements go awry, as he mistakes a dinosaur’s plates for the ears of a fox, rows of bunny ears for a crocodile’s teeth, and so on. After the die-cut page is turned, the reader can see what the animal really is, but Santa is blissfully unaware. Young readers will love knowing more than Santa does. A delightful finale finds all the animals and one boy enjoying their presents, which all work out just fine in the end. Gomi’s understated illustrations use geometric shapes, deep, saturated colors, and the cleverly placed window die-cuts to give the story added dimension. This Santa is an older Asian man with a white mustache and a deep pink suit. The only other human character is an Asian boy with dark tan skin and black hair.

There’s a subtle lesson here to slow down and evaluate before making a decision. But with this book, a snap judgement holds up—it’s a winner. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5138-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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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