A sweet, simple story of inclusion for kids who celebrate Christmas.


A snowman’s friends help him enjoy Christmas indoors in this picture book.

This latest entry in Lapid’s and Pasek’s (Halloween with Snowman Paul, 2017, etc.) snowman series is set during Christmas, which might seem like a natural fit. But the carrot-nosed Snowman Paul doesn’t see it that way. For him, Christmas is a time when everyone congregates indoors, enjoying warmth, food, and company—everyone but Paul. “If that’s called friendship, I don’t know, / Perhaps I’d rather be plain snow...!” he concludes. Hearing this, a boy—Paul’s friend and the book’s narrator—rallies his family, including the dog and cat, to come up with a solution. By drawing the fridge to the Christmas table and sitting inside, Paul can feast and join in playing games, even by the fireside. Afterward, Paul gets a special present from Santa. As with other outings in this series, Lapid writes generally effective rhyming couplets that scan well. Although the book takes for granted an audience that embraces Christmas, the atmosphere is warm, accepting, and friendly. (The family is white; the narrator has one black friend.) Rather than asking the snowman to adjust or just be left out, the family adapts to him, taking into account Paul’s special needs—a good and subtle lesson for kids. Pasek emphasizes the tale’s kindness with soft watercolor washes, and makes Paul a real character with an expressive face; his twig hair, for example, matches his mood, lying flat when he’s down.

A sweet, simple story of inclusion for kids who celebrate Christmas.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9993361-0-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2017

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.


Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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