This one has it all: original characters, an exciting plot, dazzling illustrations, and the triumph of an underdog (or...

CHRISTMAS FOR GRETA AND GRACIE

Two rabbit sisters prepare for Christmas together, but only one sister gets to meet Santa on Christmas Eve.

Big sister Greta makes all the decisions, does all the talking, and gets all the attention, while little sister Gracie is cautious and deliberate, quiet and polite. Ismail’s hilarious story is cleverly told with just a few lines of narrative text per page, stating the basic developments of the plot in an understated way while the deeper subtext unfolds through speech balloons set in a typeface that looks like a child’s printing. Garrulous Greta has plenty to say in her domineering way, while little Gracie asks innocent questions and tries to state her own preferences. When a store clerk asks Gracie what she thinks Santa is like, Greta butts in with a long, page-filling answer, followed by Gracie’s succinct, “He is magic.” On Christmas Eve, Gracie gets up by herself and bravely goes through the dark house to the living room. She shares cookies and conversation with Santa Claus himself (a white human), and on Christmas morning, Greta learns that quiet little sisters sometimes come out on top. Vibrant, loose watercolor illustrations integrate seamlessly with the text, with multiple pastel speech balloons expertly worked into the art in creative ways.

This one has it all: original characters, an exciting plot, dazzling illustrations, and the triumph of an underdog (or underbunny). More Greta and Gracie, please. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8943-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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