A merrily-ever-after read.

SANTA'S STORY

Santa knows just the trick to bring his team of reindeer together for their Christmas Eve flight.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa (who appears to be white with light skin and white hair and is accompanied by a small dog, unnamed by the text) can’t find his reindeer. As he searches in vain, readers are treated to five spreads showing Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen cavorting about the snowy, nighttime, North Pole setting. Hillenbrand’s digital illustrations have a pleasingly soft visual aesthetic, and his text offers playful riffs on the coursers’ names: “Dasher dashed,” “Dancer danced,” and “Prancer pranced,” of course, but then Willenbrand reports that “Vixen vexed,” “Comet commented,” “Cupid crooned,” “Donner dozed,” and “Blitzen boasted.” The alliterative, assonant wordplay supports the story’s resolution, which is that the only way to get the reindeer to return to the sleigh is for Santa to call out “STORY TIME!” Then, all eight gather round “to hear their favorite story.” It is (what else?) the famous poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.” After thanking Santa for this gift of a story, the reindeer are hitched to the sleigh and then they take off to deliver “a merry Christmas to ALL…and to ALL a good night.”

A merrily-ever-after read. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4338-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young...

THE BIGGEST KISS

This title previously published in the U.K. takes a cozy look at all kinds of kisses.

Walsh’s rhyming text is full of cutesy rhythms: “Kisses on noses, kisses on toes-es. Sudden kisses when you least supposes.” Sometimes the phrasing stumbles: “Who likes to kiss? I do! I do! Even the shy do. Why not try, too?” But toddlers and young preschoolers will probably not mind. They will be too engaged in spotting the lively penguin on each spread and too charmed by Abbot’s winsome illustrations that fittingly extend the wording in the story. Patient dogs queue up for a smooch from a frog prince, cool blue “ ’normous elephants” contrast strikingly with bright red “little tiny ants” and a bewildered monkey endures a smattering of lipstick kisses. Be the kiss small or tall, one to start or end the day, young readers are reminded that “the very best kiss… / is a kiss from you!” Perhaps no big surprise but comforting nonetheless.

Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young tyke or sharing with a gathering for storytime.     (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2769-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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