Incantatory pictures and words project a fresh world for people of all ages.

DARLING BABY

A grandmother records beach days spent with her grandchild in lyrical language and expressive artwork.

Kalman’s notes from her shore summer with Darling Baby turn into a gorgeous recounting of shared discoveries (seashells, stones, silver fish, rabbits) and experiences (a lightning storm, a bustling party, a nap on the lawn). Vivid full-bleed spreads deliver Technicolor experiences in vibrant strokes of pigment and words as well—Kalman incorporates hand-lettered text (in alternating emphatic caps and romantic script) into these charming paintings, allowing her voice and her images to seamlessly cohere. Readers bask in Kalman’s bright visions of summer’s sweetness absorbed alongside a child just greeting the world. The pair, at either end of mortality, find stones and shells and note that “Oskar the dog looked unhappy in his sweater.” Kalman’s ebullient illustrations, delightful portraiture, and idiosyncratic phrasing imbue the quotidian with complex (sometimes mysterious) meaning and weight. When waves pull a dead sea turtle back into “the vast ocean,” she tells the babe, “I think that is a good thing. At any rate, it is a thing. I am telling you this because I know you will understand.” Readers old and young will recognize the profound mutuality felt between grandmother and grandchild throughout this enchanting book, straightforward in affect but brimming with love. Its small trim emphasizes the intimacy of their relationship.

Incantatory pictures and words project a fresh world for people of all ages. (Picture book. 3-6, adult)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-33062-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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