CHRISTMAS IS JOY

From the Emma Dodd's Love You Books series

A reindeer introduces its calf to the meaning of Christmas.

The reindeer and calf depicted on the book’s cover move through a winter wonderland of snowy mountains and forests. Certain elements of the illustrations (the reindeers’ hides, snowy ground, and fir-tree branches and bark) have a soft visual texture while others (the distant mountains, the changing sky, the sun and stars) have a flat smoothness to them. These contrasting visual effects combine to create a sense of peaceful balance and perspective in the scenes. The accompanying rhyming verse can be read as the voice of the adult reindeer telling its calf about Christmastime, focusing on emotions and atmosphere rather than religious or secular traditions associated with the holiday. For example, there are no references to the Nativity, and Santa never makes an appearance. One verse does mention gift giving—“Christmas is giving / gifts under the tree / and time spent together, / just you and me”—but the illustration that goes along with it doesn’t anthropomorphize the reindeer to show them exchanging presents. Instead, they’re depicted nuzzling noses in a forest of snow-covered fir trees.

Calm and bright. (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1545-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.

EEK! HALLOWEEN!

The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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