Kids will come for the monster and the disembodied hand. They’ll stay for the story.

HENRY'S HAND

A good old-fashioned man/appendage love story for the ages.

Henry’s just your typical Frankenstein’s monster, “bits-and-pieces kind of guy.” Prone to having his body parts wander off without him, he’s closest to his right hand. Alas, Henry fails to appreciate the hand’s work, cruelly exploiting its helpful little green digits, sending it out to start the car on cold mornings and making it get up to change the channel. Little wonder that, one day, he finds that it has taken off for the big city. There, it saves a rich man from certain death and instantly becomes the talk of the town. Yet at the end of the day, even fame and fortune cannot compare to a good friend who knows you like the back of…well, you know. The combination of a rags-to-riches tale and the monster genre might appear jarring in the abstract, but MacDonald manages to make the enterprise work. The text is warm and friendly, though adults of a certain age will have a hard time not thinking of Thing from The Addams Family. Meanwhile, the art takes advantage of classic 1930s tropes, from crooked caps and newsboys to mailrooms and wealthy socialites.

Kids will come for the monster and the disembodied hand. They’ll stay for the story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0527-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Still, preschoolers will likely savor this mouthwatering treatment of a subject that looms large in many early school...

PEANUT BUTTER & CUPCAKE

The familiar theme of the challenges facing a new kid in town is given an original treatment by photographer Border in this book of photos of three-dimensional objects in a simple modeled landscape.

Peanut Butter is represented by a slice of white bread spread with the popular condiment. The other characters in the story—a hamburger with a pair of hot dogs in tow, a bowl of alphabet soup, a meatball jumping a rope of spaghetti, a carton of French fries and a pink cupcake—are represented by skillfully crafted models of these foods, anthropomorphized using simple wire construction. Rejected by each character in turn in his search for playmates, Peanut Butter discovers in the end that Jelly is his true match (not Cupcake, as the title suggests), perhaps because she is the only one who looks like him, being a slice of white bread spread with jelly. The friendly foods end up happily playing soccer together. Some parents may have trouble with the unabashedly happy depiction of carbs and American junk food (no carrots or celery sticks in this landscape), and others may find themselves troubled by the implication that friendship across difference is impossible.

Still, preschoolers will likely savor this mouthwatering treatment of a subject that looms large in many early school experiences. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16773-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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