Soul-stirring and sure to put readers in a festive mood.

I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Christmas spirit is expressed in joyous and reflective onomatopoeic exclamations in this new holiday staple, a follow-up to I Got the Rhythm (2014).

With her first yawn in the morning, the young black protagonist, coily ’fro on full display, excitedly wakes to the spirit of the season. Snowflakes flutter across bright illustrations, encouraging readers to inhale, feel, taste, and listen to all things Christmas as embodied in loving detail in the rhythmic language. The winter delights include ice skating (“SWISH SWISH”), caroling (“FA LA LA LA LA”), and the sparkling of Christmas lights (“BLING BLING”), whetting the appetites of young readers as they count down the days until Christmas. Each page sets a different scene, but the little girl, now with two adorable afro puffs, steals each one as she bops around town. Whether she’s letting the steam from roasted chestnuts curl around her face or advocating for others with Santa, she makes sure to show that the spirit of Christmas is not just the traditions enjoyed, but also the actions taken to share kindness and joy with others, because “THE SPIRIT IS YOU!” Author and illustrator capture children’s insistent acknowledgment of what adults often pretend not to see, in this case homeless members of the community, and they also emphasize the strength of will that allows the young protagonist to rise mightily to the occasion.

Soul-stirring and sure to put readers in a festive mood. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-528-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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