THE WISHING TREE

Theo’s wish for a more-joyful Christmas is fulfilled in unexpected ways.

With Christmas only three days away, the street outside Theo’s window is quiet and dark. Theo decides that instead of asking Santa for toys, he has just one wish for Christmas. Crumpling up his original list, he writes a new letter, and while he sleeps, the wind pulls his letter out the window and through the air all the way to the North Pole. The next day, Theo is out playing in the snow when he finds a huge pine tree with the words Property of the North Pole carved into its trunk. From the tree falls a letter: “Bring joy.” Later that day, Theo decides to decorate the town. The next day, another message from the tree says, “Find harmony.” That night, he decides to go caroling and is joined by neighbor after neighbor. On Christmas, his parents have to work, and Theo is sad. His grandma decides that maybe the neighbors will want to brighten his Christmas as he brightened theirs. They do, and by night’s end, Theo introduces them all to the wishing tree. Theo, who, like his whole family, presents Black, is a sweet, sympathetic protagonist readers will feel for as he seeks to make Christmas special. The example of individual joy being tied to community joy is timely and heartfelt. The blue-and-gold–themed illustrations bring the season to life. A dozen punch-out cards are included for the book’s purchasers to make their own wishing trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This magic feels true. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-274716-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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