SANTA CLAUSTROPHOBIA

American holidays are the characters in this witty seasonal tale, the second Christmas story collaboration by Reiss and Catrow (How Murray Saved Christmas, not reviewed). Santa has gained weight and is claustrophobic about getting stuck in a chimney during deliveries. The kindly therapist, Doc Holiday, sends Santa off on a cruise for a year to recuperate, and recruits all his other clients to take over Santa’s work. The extensive cast list (unnecessarily all male) includes all the major holidays, from Baby New Year to the Thanksgiving Turkey, with hilarious minor holiday persona as well, each with a particular problem. Christopher Columbus can’t get his directions straight; the April Fool is, of course, a prank-playing fool; and the red-eyed, suspicious Election Day Donkey and Elephant (with butterfly ballots hanging out of their pockets) are stuck on an island recounting their own votes. The story is told in rollicking, sing-song rhyme (recalling the Grinch), full of some very funny, laugh-out-loud ideas, off-beat humor, and sly digs at holiday frippery and foibles. Catrow’s hilarious, cartoon-style watercolors provide additional amusement that will appeal to children, teens, and adults. All his characters are caricatures, including one representing Martin Luther King Day, which may be problematic for some readers or communities. This will work well as a read-aloud for older kids, and of course, as an ideal Christmas gift for any therapist who doesn’t shrink from irreverent humor. (Picture book. 6+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8341-7756-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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