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

MOUSE'S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

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. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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

CARPENTER'S HELPER

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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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