Though it lacks the brevity of Aesop, this lightly Christmas-y twist has some charm

THE WINTER FOX

Fox plays all summer long and doesn’t take care to prepare for winter.

In green and golden double-page spreads, Fox gambols and loafs while his friends busy themselves preparing for winter and offering to help him do the same. When they tell him they will be snug in their dens all winter long, he replies, “I will play in the snow and sing to the wind and have the whole forest to myself!” Naturally, once winter does come, Fox finds himself bitterly regretting his imprudent ways. Thinking to himself, “Oh, I wish I’d listened to my friends,” Fox looks for a star to wish on and is bonked on the head by a falling box wrapped in bright paper. (In the distance, a dim silhouette of a flying sleigh and reindeer can be espied, the only hint of Santa’s presence in the book.) Fox opens the box and finds various foodstuffs and smaller wrapped boxes, which he distributes among his friends. After a feast, they counsel him to store the leftovers to get him through the rest of the winter. Each soft-focus illustration is embellished with silver foil for maximum sparkle, highlighting birchbark, dead grasses, and snowdrifts. All the animals are so fuzzy and nonthreatening it’s easy to imagine this Fox playing with instead of eating his squirrel and rabbit friends.

Though it lacks the brevity of Aesop, this lightly Christmas-y twist has some charm . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9631-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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