A familiar tale with a Halloween makeover.

THE LITTLEST WITCH

From the Littlest series

Wilma is a little witch who longs to be able to do bigger things.

Her small hands can’t control the broom to do the stunts for the demonstration at the Halloween bash, and they also can’t keep hold of the big jar of herbs she’s adding to her sister Hazel’s scream potion (it explodes in a “gooey green mess”). Those tiny hands also can’t catch a toad for a spell or tie up twigs for a new broom. Dejected, Wilma roams the Spooky Woods, where she meets Mae, who’s also sad; it seems that her family is sick and can’t do the mummy dance with her at the party. At least the friends can be together. But when the broom-flying demo goes wrong, it’s small Wilma, sitting atop Mae’s shoulders, who saves the day. Though the tale may strike a chord with kids who feel too small as well, this latest in the Littlest series feels like a formulaic retread of the earlier titles, concluding with a familiar moral extolling friendship. Pogue’s cartoon illustrations have an animation aesthetic. The adorable Halloween characters are wildly diverse and nonscary, with skin of all hues, including green and purple. The book includes stickers to use in decorating—there are no indicated places for them in the book.

A familiar tale with a Halloween makeover. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32910-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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