An excellent read for little ones learning about the holiday as well as those who can’t wait for Halloween to arrive.

SPOOKY HOUSE

From the Bizzy Bear series

Bizzy Bear attends a Halloween party.

Bizzy Bear enters a spooky house on Halloween night. As the friendly critter follows a dog butler through the house, readers are able to slide panels that make portraits’ eyes move, bats and animal witches fly outside, doors open and close, and more. The story ends in the attic, where a Halloween bash is in full swing. The illustrations eschew the Bizzy Bear books’ usual bright primary color palette and swap in dark purples, greens, and oranges. The comfortably rounded Bizzy Bear character stylings are still there, but the backgrounds incorporate harsh angles in their compositions to make the environment all the spookier. The sliding panels and tabs are sturdily constructed, resistant to even the harshest tugs from spooked toddlers. The shifting environments are particularly creative, drawing little readers into the creepy environment but still keeping this fun instead of truly scary.

An excellent read for little ones learning about the holiday as well as those who can’t wait for Halloween to arrive. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9327-5

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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