MERRY CHRISTMAS, STINKY FACE

McCourt and Moore (It’s Time for School, Stinky Face, 2000, etc.) continue their collaborative examination of one imaginative little boy with a major case of the “what-if’s,” the fourth in the successful series. This time the little boy called Stinky Face (who is actually quite sweet and clean) focuses his questions to his patient mother on the approaching Christmas holiday. The potential problems posed by Stinky Face begin realistically (too much snow, a melting snowman) and escalate rapidly into more fanciful fretfulness revolving around Santa’s imminent visit. Each question follows a “But what if . . . ” pattern, smoothly answered by the boy’s creative mother, who has a quick-witted, soothing solution for any worry, just like the mother rabbit in The Runaway Bunny. Moore’s lighthearted illustrations ground these worried musings in reality, with believable images that will help to explain some of unusual ideas (a coat rack Christmas tree, a reindeer with its antlers stuck in overhanging branches). One delightful product of Stinky Face’s imagination is the friendly Christmasaurus, a holly-covered dinosaur who stops by to help put lights on the house. What if the Christmasaurus came back for another visit in the next story? And what if she and Stinky Face took off in Santa’s sleigh? And what if they crash-landed in the Easter Bunny’s egg-painting factory? Just ask Stinky Face’s mom. She’ll come up with some clever solution. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8167-7468-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Troll

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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