ROVER SAVES CHRISTMAS

Combine one talking dog, Santa Claus, his reindeer Rudolph, who has the flu, lizards that change their names to fit a climate, four children, and a variety of talking objects and appliances; add an irreverent tone and cheeky style, and presto: a nonsensical and nonlinear story based on the belief in Santa. Rover (The Giggler Treatment, 2000) subs for Rudolph and with the aid of the aforementioned, the race is on to get all the presents delivered in time. Kids ingrained with Saturday morning cartoons may find this hilarious but the irreverence, bathroom humor, illogic of constant interruptions (labeled as such) in the narrative, and admonishments like Warning directed to the reader will be tiresome to adults. The one sentence of Chapter Six claims: “I don’t want to be Chapter Six.” Constellations are named “Teacher’s Armpit” and “Monkey’s Bum.” Pop references and British terms abound, such as mad cows, Guinness, nappies, Rover Bond (as in James), and, of course, Harry Potter. A glossary offers smart-alecky explanations. Major promotion will hype the seasonal aspect and the large type and brief chapters may lure fans of Doyle’s “poo-on-shoe” humor. This spoof on Christmas needs to restring its lights to make it less dependent on the distracting gimmicks and silly devices and focus on the goofy, outlandish appeal of a talking dog leading Santa’s sleigh across the world. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-30530-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Reads like a grown-up’s over-the-top effort to peddle a set of kid-friendly premises—a notion that worked for the author’s...

THE CHRISTMASAURUS

A boy asks Santa for a dinosaur and gets a life-changing experience.

Cribbing freely from any number of classic Christmas stories and films, musician/vlogger Fletcher places his 10-year-old protagonist, William, who uses a wheelchair, at the head of an all-white human cast that features his widowed dad, a girl bully, and a maniacal hunter—plus a dinosaur newly hatched from an egg discovered in the North Pole’s ice by Santa’s elves. Having stowed away on Santa’s sleigh, Christmasaurus meets and bonds with William on Christmas Eve, then, fueled by the power of a child’s belief, flies the lad to the North Pole (“It’s somewhere between Imagination and Make-Believe”) for a meeting with the jolly toymaker himself. Upon his return William gets to see the hunter (who turns out to be his uncle) gun down his dad (who survives), blast a plush dinosaur toy to bits, and then with a poster-sized “CRUNCH! GULP!” go down Christmasaurus’ hatch. In the meantime (emphasis on “mean”), after William spots his previously vicious tormenter, Brenda Payne, crying in the bushes, he forgives trespasses that in real life would have had her arrested and confined long ago. Seemingly just for laffs, the author tosses in doggerel-speaking elves (“ ‘If it’s a girl, can we call her Ginny?’ / ‘I think it’s a boy! Look, he’s got a thingy!’ ”) and closes with further lyrics and a list of 10 (secular) things to love about Christmas. Devries adds sugary illustrations or spot art to nearly every spread.

Reads like a grown-up’s over-the-top effort to peddle a set of kid-friendly premises—a notion that worked for the author’s The Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet (2017), but not here. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7330-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more