As precious as sunshine.

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THE SHORTEST DAY

Rituals to celebrate the cycle of light and dark have existed since the beginning of time.

Newbery Medalist Cooper uses sparse, evocative language that personifies how humans celebrate the changing of the seasons. Featuring a poem created first for the Christmas Revels, the book tells the story of the solstices, how the world moves from the year’s longest day in the summer to the shortest day of winter. The tone is both solemn and reverent yet also full of rejoicing. The story begins as silent as sunrise, the rich, evocative illustrations of Caldecott Honoree Ellis giving voice as she shows early humans working during the time of light, their day’s activities revolving around the movement of the sun. “So the shortest day came,” writes Cooper, and Ellis’ beautiful gouache paintings depict a world that is pushing against the dark with candles and dance and song. Despite the urgency of the people to push away darkness for light, the tone of the tale is one of hope, anticipation, love, joy and spiritual happiness, culminating with Yule. People depicted morph from early hunter-gatherers to people in northern European medieval garb to a multiracial gathering. They gather in a modern Western home with mantelpiece decorated with menorah and holly, singing carols by the Christmas tree.

As precious as sunshine. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8698-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere.

I'M ON IT!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

A frog tries to do everything a goat does, too.

Goat asks Frog to look at them before declaring “I’m ON it!” while balancing atop a tree stump near a pond. After an “Oooh!” and a “You know what?” Frog leaps off their lily pad to balance on a rock: “I’m on it, too!” Goat grabs a prop so that they can be both “on it AND beside it.” (It may take young readers a little bit to realize there are two its.) So does Frog. The competition continues as Frog struggles to mimic overconfident Goat’s antics. In addition to on and beside, the pair adds inside, between, under, and more. Eventually, it all gets to be too much for Frog to handle, so Frog falls into the water, resumes position on the lily pad, and declares “I am OVER it” while eating a fly. In an act of solidarity, Goat jumps in, too. In Tsurumi’s first foray into early readers she pares down her energetic, colorful cartoon style to the bare essentials without losing any of the madcap fun. Using fewer than 80 repeated words (over 12 of which are prepositions), the clever text instructs, delights, and revels in its own playfulness. Color-coded speech bubbles (orange for Goat, green for Frog) help match the dialogue with each speaker. Like others in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series, Elephant and Piggie metafictively bookend the main narrative with hilariously on-the-nose commentary.

Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06696-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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