A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season.

PLAYING WITH LANTERNS

A colorful wintry tale ushers in Chinese New Year over two weeks.

In this picture book, the narrator recounts with nostalgia an observance of the traditional New Year in rural northern China. The snow-covered village bustles with activity as folks venture out to greet relatives and friends. “On the third day, uncles started giving LANTERNS” refers to an old custom in provincial Shaanxi—especially among maternal uncles. Palpable and immediate are Zhao Di’s eager anticipation and the care with which she “walk[s] through the snow with her lantern in case she slipped or the candle blew out in the wind.” Simple yet vivid close-ups depict Zhao Di and her friends, bundled head to toe and comparing lantern designs—accordion, watermelon, etc.—while braving the cold and a bunch of rowdy boys. All too soon, the 15th day arrives, signaling the end of the New Year celebrations. In a pivotal spread that shows Zhao Di sitting with her dog and chickens, readers are granted an interior view of the architecture and layout of a rustic farmhouse. In addition, the villagers’ various clothing styles, headdresses, and skin tones suggest the region’s diverse ethnicities and socio-economic landscapes. As the story concludes with the obligatory smashing and burning of the lanterns, Zhao Di comforts herself with the hopeful thought of lighting new lanterns next year.

A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2984-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Kid-friendly dark humor.

POULTRYGEIST

The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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