A fresh, sweet way to explore the true meaning of Christmas and unexpected encounters.

THE CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA HOTEL

A mistake and a chance encounter lead to an unlikely friendship.

Bear is settling down for a quiet, cozy Christmas reading by the fire, happy to be alone, when he hears a car horn outside. He opens the door to find an exuberant frog with luggage piled high, expecting a “Christmas EXTRAVAGANZA!” complete with a “supersonic sleigh ride.” A quick look at Frog’s upside-down map reveals that he’s on the opposite side of the world from his vacation destination. Bear kindly offers to let Frog stay with him, but the next day he realizes that he’ll have to think of creative alternatives to the activities in Frog’s brochure. They bake iced cookies to replace an “all-you-can-eat North Pole breakfast bar.” Who needs a singing Christmas tree when there’s a gigantic outdoor tree sparkling with real snow, its height emphasized by a vertical two-page spread. Best of all, viewing the northern lights from a hillside more than makes up for missing the gaudy light display at the hotel. The two characters, temperamental opposites, end up appreciating each other’s gift of friendship. The book’s large, square format gives ample room for cheery, expressive illustrations. Bear and Frog so obviously enjoy each other’s company that their differences fall away as they find the joy of newfound friendship.

A fresh, sweet way to explore the true meaning of Christmas and unexpected encounters. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68010-102-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.

GOD GAVE US EASTER

From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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