Like so many books commemorating the season, sweet but unremarkable.


Rhyming verse describes various Christmas symbols and events, grouped by color, as four children celebrate the season.

The dominant color in Gamble’s palette shifts accordingly from red through green, gold, blue, and white to brown before concluding pages shift from hues to “you.” The children, two White kids who may be preschoolers or early-elementary children, one Asian child about the same age, and another Asian child who is a young toddler, decorate the tree, go to a Christmas fair, go ice-skating, and participate in a Nativity play, among other activities. The children’s caregivers are largely absent, leaving readers to parse the children’s relationships as they will: They could be siblings, two sets of cousins, or good friends. Other children of varied racial presentation appear in the background. Turner’s verse makes some odd twists and turns, with forced rhymes and/or scansion in more than one or two spots. “Christmas is GOLD. / It’s bright ribbon unrolled. / It’s jingling bells / and warm, yummy smells. / It’s heirlooms YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HOLD. / It’s dancers all tapping among holiday trappings. / It’s nutcracker crowns / and Christmas Eve gowns. / It’s glittery gift wrapping.” Like the verse, the illustrations are also sometimes awkward, the children sometimes seeming as if they are pasted onto a space rather than painted into it. A little mouse in a snowsuit appears in many spreads. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 92.3% of actual size.)

Like so many books commemorating the season, sweet but unremarkable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65414-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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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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