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MOUSE'S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

If you give a mouse a friend, you get a happy ending to a new take on an old Christmas favorite.

What if a mouse was stirring on Christmas Eve?

Corderoy’s text opens with lines from “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” but it quickly shifts to tell quite a different tale: “On that night before Christmas, / dear reader, you see, / there was one little mouse / as awake as could be.” Sadly, this stirring Mouse is lonesome on Christmas Eve, so he makes a wish on the star at the top of a Christmas tree for a friend. No sooner does he do so than “a clatter” arises outside. There, Mouse finds Santa calling his reindeer by name to make sure they’re all accounted for after his sleigh is grounded by a storm. Santa and his team are lost, so Mouse offers to help guide them through the neighborhood to make sure all of the children receive their presents. Massini’s art makes terrific use of rich, black, nighttime skies in contrast with the white snowfall, rooftops, and landscape below, and Santa’s sleigh itself seems made of starlight as it sails through the air. Mouse’s wish is granted at the book’s end, with Santa gifting him not one but two pairs of skates—the second pair for a new friend who shared the very same wish Mouse made earlier.

If you give a mouse a friend, you get a happy ending to a new take on an old Christmas favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1440-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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HEY, DUCK!

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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