Coming up with an easy-to-read, original Christmas story with a funny plot is a tall order, but the addition of the popular...


From the Fly Guy series

Fly Guy buzzes in for his 16th outing, with a funny story combining ninja magnetism with the arrival of Santa, all wrapped up in a sparkly, silver cover.

Fly Guy’s owner, a white boy named Buzz, is reading a book called Night of the Ninja, sparking the talking fly’s curiosity about all things ninja. When Fly Guy spots Santa (white, white-bearded, and red-suited) in the living room, the intrepid insect flies into action with a karate kick and his battle cry: “Ninjazzzz!” After knocking Santa into the tree, Fly Guy befriends the man in red and asks for his help with a gift for Buzz. On Christmas morning, Buzz opens his last present to find Fly Guy inside, along with a ninja knight costume, and Fly Guy receives a red ninja outfit from Buzz. The humorous story is short and accessible to new readers, with just a few lines of text per page, interspersed with Fly Guy’s pithy comments, usually ending in lots of Z’s. Cartoon-style illustrations are drolly comical, with all the characters sporting bulgy eyes similar to those of their favorite pet fly. And Fly Guy himself is quite an appealing character (especially for a traditionally pesky insect), always coming across as cute instead of gross, even when he’s eating Santa’s cookies.

Coming up with an easy-to-read, original Christmas story with a funny plot is a tall order, but the addition of the popular ninja theme sends this one soaring. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-66277-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among


Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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