A nonsensical title and premise, frenetic illustrations, and butt jokes do not add up to a noteworthy Christmas story.

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE CHRISTMAS!

Santa’s head elf, Wink Silverbells, gathers all the items from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” so Santa can give them to Mrs. Claus as her Christmas gifts.

Wink, a boy elf with light skin and dark hair, serves as the first-person narrator, with his dialogue displayed in blue speech balloons. He finds the list of the unusual Christmas items in Santa’s office, including the words, “My true love gave to me…” and assumes that Santa needs to acquire these things as gifts for Mrs. Claus. The elf asks readers to help, a conceit intended to encourage participation later with whistling, honking like geese, and dancing. The concluding dance party finds Wink urging the readers to “Wiggle that butt!” and “Wilder! Crazier! More butt wiggling!” These comments are illustrated with a view of Wink from the rear holding up his tunic to display his candy-striped tights. Other cheap, above-children’s-heads moments include the comment, “What the elf?” and Wink’s assertion that the word “yes” in French is “wee.” Cartoon-style illustrations are humorous but very busy, including both male and female elves and several characters with brown skin tones; Santa is white. He explains to Wink that he doesn’t need all the items from the song for Mrs. Claus because he already bought her a vacuum. What the elf, Santa? Mrs. Claus deserves better.

A nonsensical title and premise, frenetic illustrations, and butt jokes do not add up to a noteworthy Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4136-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa.

HOW TO CATCH SANTA

From the How To... series

The creators of the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) continue their series with this story about a brother and sister who want to capture Santa on his annual visit to their home.

The children discuss improbable ideas for spotting or catching Santa, including a complicated sequence with notes to lure Santa up to their bedroom. They wait up for Santa, and a nighttime view of Santa and the reindeer on the neighborhood’s roofs makes his arrival seem imminent. Then, in a disappointing conclusion, the children fall asleep with no sign of Santa’s arrival. In the morning it’s clear Santa has been there, as the presents are under the tree and the cookies and carrots have been eaten. There is a trail of red glitter leading to the chimney from the letter the kids sent to Santa, but that’s the only surprise this story has to offer. Readers might be expecting some sort of exciting trap for Santa or some clever way the children get to meet him or ride in his sleigh. No…just a sprinkle of red glitter. Digitally produced illustration are bright and cheery, with cute kids and amusing details, but sharp-eyed readers will notice the decorated Christmas tree in the living room is inexplicably placed in four different locations on different pages.

Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49839-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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