Overall, a mismatch of story and format.

WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT

From the When Your… series

It’s picture day, and everyone wants to look their best—including a very hairy llama.

To prepare for picture day, an unnamed black boy must fix his pet llama’s unruly hair. It turns out that making a llama photoworthy is no easy endeavor: after catching his llama and convincing him to get a haircut, the little boy must wash and detangle his pet’s hair. Next, the pair must choose a hairstyle. After vacillating among choices ranging from a bowl cut to a mohawk, they settle on a “simple trim from nose to tail.” When the llama still won’t cooperate, the boy decides to take a different approach, leading to a twist ending. It is refreshing to see a black protagonist in a comedic story, and the combination of second-person narration and cartoonish illustrations proves witty and engaging. Adults will appreciate Hill’s (When Your Lion Needs a Bath, 2017) numerous winks to parents, who may recognize parallels between cutting a llama’s hair and caring for a toddler. However, the narrative is too advanced for the typical board-book–age reader. The conflict involves picture day, an occasion that will be unfamiliar to children who do not yet attend school. The ending falls flat, partly because it involves an abstract leap too complex for very young readers.

Overall, a mismatch of story and format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0564-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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