A nice, new rendition of the familiar, touching story about the magic and power of belief.

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MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade gets underway in New York with Santa sound asleep at the rear.

Susan’s mother, in charge of the parade, quickly finds a replacement, who introduces himself as Kris Kringle. Welcomed to Thanksgiving dinner with Susan, her mother, and their neighbor Fred, he proclaims that he is the actual Santa Claus. Susan wants to believe him, but her mother has real doubts. The old man is convincing as the department-store Santa, talking to a diverse group of young visitors in different languages, including sign language. Eventually a judge settles the question of whether or not he’s Santa once and for all. A story that’s been adapted to many formats from cinema to radio to television since its publication as a novella by Davies in 1947, here it’s reworked by Hill for a picture-book audience. Gray’s soft-focus illustrations retain the flavor of 1940s New York while consciously developing a diverse cast of secondary characters including an interracial family and a black judge; Susan, her mother, Fred, and Kris Kringle are white, however. A rich palette and holiday-themed borders on some of the pages add to the comforting feel of the book. Inset boxes of illustrations with fuzzy edges re-create some of the cinematic qualities of previous adaptations.

A nice, new rendition of the familiar, touching story about the magic and power of belief. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6986-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A nice sentiment marred somewhat by its forced verse.

A BOOK OF LOVE

A how-to book of love.

Valentine’s Day brings a new crop of books each year about love, including at least one that attempts to define and exemplify love. This is that book for 2020. “We often show our love with touch, / like a great big hug or kiss. / But there are lots of ways to show you care, / and ideas not to miss.” These include being patient, listening to someone who’s having a tough day, gifts, kind deeds (like washing the dishes), “forgiving and forgetting,” sharing with siblings, standing up for people, and looking past faults. In some cases, the pictures may not aid much in comprehension, especially with the younger audience the rhymes are meant to appeal to: “To offer a gentle word or two, / and consider how others feel, / are both examples of selfless acts / that prove your love is real” (one child cheers on a frightened soloist at a recital—does that really illustrate selflessness?). The meter is sometimes off, and in a few cases it’s clear words were chosen for rhyme rather than meaning. Bright illustrations fill the pages with adorable children readers can trace throughout the book. The final two spreads are the strongest: One depicts a robustly diverse crowd of people all holding hands and smiling; the other is a starry spread over a neighborhood full of homes, hearts spangling the sky.

A nice sentiment marred somewhat by its forced verse. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9331-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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