Kids will find the premise comical, but as far as a rewarding Christmas story is concerned, a dog-bites-Santa joke “is just...

PIG THE ELF

From the Pig the Pug series

In this rhyming story, the latest in a series from Australia, Pig the pug celebrates Christmas in his characteristically greedy fashion.

Pig’s best pal, Trevor the dachshund, asks Santa for “something nice” in a neatly printed letter shown on the front endpapers. But Pig has a Christmas list a mile long, ranging from a motorcycle to longer legs, reproduced in blocky print on the back endpapers. Wearing a red Santa suit, Pig stays up waiting for Santa’s arrival. When Santa leaves only a few presents, Pig yells at him rudely and tries to detain him by biting “poor old Santa’s big, rosy behind!” Pig doesn’t let go, and he is dragged along as Santa returns to his sleigh, with Pig complaining that his pile of presents “is just not enough.” (Sharp-eyed children may wonder how Pig talks when his teeth are clenched on Santa’s rear end.) The greedy pug finally falls from the flying sleigh, and in “a real Christmas miracle,” he is saved by landing on an angel at the top of an outdoor Christmas tree. The visual humor of the dog clamped onto Santa’s seat is funny (if a dog biting someone can be funny), but Pig’s greedy, ill-mannered comments to Santa are not. Mixed-media illustrations emphasize Pig’s bulging eyes, which are echoed in the similarly buggy eyes of Santa (who is white), his reindeer, and even Trevor the dachshund.  

Kids will find the premise comical, but as far as a rewarding Christmas story is concerned, a dog-bites-Santa joke “is just not enough.” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-22122-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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