Younger siblings of the Mercy chapter-book lovers will find their way into the series with this first look, written just for...

A PIGLET NAMED MERCY

To paraphrase an immortal spider, Mercy is some pig.

Mercy Watson, a “small and not at all ordinary” pig, is already the star of six early chapter books, well-known for her love of buttered toast and, of course, of Mr. and Mrs. Watson, the white couple who care for her. But how did Mercy come to live with the Watsons? And how did they discover her love for buttered toast? Written simply for the pre–chapter-book audience, with big, bright, often full-spread illustrations, this picture book offers an introduction to Mercy, “the porcine wonder,” with all the dramatic expressions and gentle humor of the chapter books and some irresistible pig cuteness sprinkled in for extra charm. Vivid colors cause each illustration to pop, with a retro style to the Watsons’ rosy cheeks, classic car, and rather traditional gender roles (Mrs. Watson vacuums, Mr. Watson polishes the car). An unnamed interracial family seen through a window references two characters introduced as school-age children in the fourth installment of the chapter-book series: Frank and Stella, he as a toddler and she as a baby. Since the target audience for this outing will have no familiarity with them, their presence mostly serves to underscore the otherwise all-white human cast.

Younger siblings of the Mercy chapter-book lovers will find their way into the series with this first look, written just for them . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7753-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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