THE CHRISTMAS BLESSING

A ONE-OF-A-KIND NATIVITY STORY ABOUT THE LOVE THAT BRINGS US TOGETHER

Bickering animals unite to clean up their barn for the arrival of baby Jesus.

A thundering voice asks Mama Star to shine a path for the wandering family whose baby will fill the world with light. Mama Star shines bright to lead the way. At the Bethlehem stable, she asks the animals, who have awoken in confusion, to calm down and work together to clean up for “great visitors.” The different animals argue over the responsibility. Mama Star’s light fills the stable as she speaks to them again, telling them to look at how each kind of animal loves their young, families, and friends: “Love is love, if you’re a goat, a pig, a horse, or hen.” The coming birth will bless everyone and spread love on Earth, she tells them. The animals cuddle their young, then each starts to pitch in to clean the manger and create a comfortable space for the birth. The final page holds a rhyming “Christmas blessing” filled with thanks. The main story’s text rhymes gently, though some lines are awkwardly phrased, and many lack the rhythmic structure that makes for smooth read-alouds. Soft-focus illustrations depict Mama Star as an angelic shape composed of white light; human characters are pictured from afar or from behind, leaving their appearances up to readers’ imaginations. With the focus on unity around the blessing of Christ’s birth, this will make a nice addition to religious Christian homes.

Serves its purpose. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-4049-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Uplifting and inspiring of further research.

SEÑORITA MARIPOSA

A bilingual love poem of admiration and respect for the millions of monarch butterflies that journey south to Mexico every year.

From a chrysalis on the title page, Señorita Mariposa invites readers to follow the monarch butterfly as it embarks on a journey spanning thousands of miles, “Over mountains capped with snow… / To the deserts down below.” In the same manner, the monarch butterfly exiting the chrysalis at the end of the book then invites readers to flip back to the beginning and restart the journey. Almada Rivero’s warm and friendly illustrations showcase the various people and animals the monarch encounters in its 3,000-mile journey, including a couple of brown-skinned children who welcome Señorita Mariposa to Mexico as the text reads, “Can’t believe how far you’ve come.” Gundersheimer’s recounting of the lepidoptera’s journey is told in a bilingual poem, English set in a serif type and Spanish set in sans-serif. Like the butterfly traveling south and north, the languages switch prominence, displaying in the larger font the principal—and rhyming—language in each spread. Although at times distracting, this technique is a valiant attempt to give equal importance to each language. Backmatter includes facts on the round trip the butterflies undertake, the “super generation” that makes the trek south, and a call to action to protect the monarchs as they slowly lose their habitats.

Uplifting and inspiring of further research. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4070-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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