If you give a mouse a friend, you get a happy ending to a new take on an old Christmas favorite.

MOUSE'S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

What if a mouse was stirring on Christmas Eve?

Corderoy’s text opens with lines from “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” but it quickly shifts to tell quite a different tale: “On that night before Christmas, / dear reader, you see, / there was one little mouse / as awake as could be.” Sadly, this stirring Mouse is lonesome on Christmas Eve, so he makes a wish on the star at the top of a Christmas tree for a friend. No sooner does he do so than “a clatter” arises outside. There, Mouse finds Santa calling his reindeer by name to make sure they’re all accounted for after his sleigh is grounded by a storm. Santa and his team are lost, so Mouse offers to help guide them through the neighborhood to make sure all of the children receive their presents. Massini’s art makes terrific use of rich, black, nighttime skies in contrast with the white snowfall, rooftops, and landscape below, and Santa’s sleigh itself seems made of starlight as it sails through the air. Mouse’s wish is granted at the book’s end, with Santa gifting him not one but two pairs of skates—the second pair for a new friend who shared the very same wish Mouse made earlier.

If you give a mouse a friend, you get a happy ending to a new take on an old Christmas favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1440-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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