A winner of a story with enchanting illustrations by a master.

THE CHRISTMAS BOOT

A poor and lonely woman finds a black boot in the snow, which leads to magical transformations just before Christmas.

Hannah Greyweather leads a solitary, hardscrabble life in her mountain cabin. When she tries on the newfound boot, it immediately changes shape to fit her foot perfectly. When she wishes for the boot’s mate, it mysteriously appears the next morning, followed by a pair of red mittens. Hannah then wishes for a feather bed, fine food, and a fancy house, all of which magically appear without explanation. But when a white-bearded man in a red suit comes looking for his missing boot, all the magical developments disappear. The unnamed visitor provides Hannah with new boots, mittens, and a puppy for companionship before he departs into the night sky with his sleigh and reindeer. The original story flows like a folk tale, with a fine blend of dialogue and description. Dramatic tension and humor result from Hannah’s unfamiliarity with Santa, and children will enjoy being in on the identity of the red-suited visitor. Pinkney enhances the strong text with his delightful watercolor illustrations filled with homey details and swirling snowflakes. Both Hannah and Santa have ruddy complexions, and both seem like real people rather than storybook characters. An extra-large trim size, high-quality paper, and a thoughtful design add to the book’s overall appeal.

A winner of a story with enchanting illustrations by a master. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4134-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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