One of the best of its genre; attractive and informative, and a must for the growing Chinese New Year shelf.

POPO'S LUCKY CHINESE NEW YEAR

PoPo helps her granddaughter learn Chinese New Year traditions in this intergenerational celebration of family and culture.

When PoPo arrives from China, preparations for Chinese New Year, a holiday that’s like “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all bundled together,” begin. Everything, from what one cooks and wears to how one cleans and decorates, is important to this age-old custom. As PoPo explains the symbolism behind each gesture, her Chinese-American granddaughter reacts with an honesty and effort that will captivate readers. The child’s candid responses, both humorous and endearing, make the holiday’s rituals accessible—whether she’s sweeping her baby brother out with the bad luck (before bringing him back in and lovingly rubbing his “big Buddha belly”), greedily eating seconds for a long life, or acting like a cash register, yelling “Cha Ching!” when red envelopes with money are being distributed. Benoit’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are extremely appealing. They exude warmth—both in the way she draws her characters and with her palette selection and how she thoughtfully applies her colors. Everything has a softness to it, drawing readers in, until they too feel embraced by the girl who cuddles her baby brother and the grandmother who is passing her heritage on to her kin. With running commentary on common practices included on each spread and an art activity at the end, Loh-Hagen offers a comprehensive idea of what Chinese New Year is about, couched within an authentic Chinese-American experience.

One of the best of its genre; attractive and informative, and a must for the growing Chinese New Year shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-978-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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