Extroverts may appreciate the validation, but this series is losing its freshness for everyone else.

ALL RIGHT ALREADY!

A SNOWY STORY

From the Goodnight Already! series

Poor, beleaguered Bear must put up with his neighbor Duck’s over-the-top excitement when it snows overnight.

Those familiar with the Goodnight Already! series know that Bear and Duck have previously weathered differences in sleep patterns, activity choices, and some time apart. This time, Extrovert (with a capital E) Duck is thrilled to wake to new snowfall. The first thing Duck does is run to tell Bear, who is in the bath, and cajole him into enjoying the snow together. Introvert (with a capital I) Bear is interested only in drying off. But Duck won’t be put off. “No” is Bear’s answer to every activity suggestion Duck poses, but Duck insists on sledding and snow angels and a snowball fight. Hilariously, Bear is wearing only a yellow and orange polka-dot towel around his waist and a tiny shower cap atop his head; Duck didn’t even let him dry off, which is why his sudden sneeze is no surprise. Duck’s ministrations are the final straw for Bear: “Out! Now!” Duck’s own sneeze leads to a subtle (not!) message for Bear begging for some TLC. Bear is almost a slapstick character in Davies’ illustrations, and Duck is a whirlwind of energy. As in many recent introvert/extrovert books, it’s the introvert who gives in to make the peace: Bear, still sick, comes and tends Duck, though unwillingly. Moreover, the joke simply feels old in this fourth iteration.

Extroverts may appreciate the validation, but this series is losing its freshness for everyone else. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-237099-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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