A valuable addition to the holiday shelf.

SANTA IN THE CITY

Deja still believes in Santa, but her friends’ challenges leave her with questions.

Deja loves Christmas so much she counts down the days, hours, and seconds until it arrives. But the kids at school ask her how Santa finds her apartment if she has no chimney and insist that no one can live at the North Pole. Carmen says that even if Santa existed, “he’d never visit us in the city.” Mommy finds Deja weeping in her bedroom, and when Deja asks if Santa is real, Mommy sets about showing Deja just how Santa operates. No chimney? No problem: Santa has magic keys, like the superintendent. No parking? That’s OK: Santa parks on the roof of the apartment building and takes the stairs. Deja is satisfied with Mommy’s explanations, but more and more questions keep occurring to her. Finally, when Mommy says she has met Santa, Deja gets an idea. She decides to stay up to meet him herself and get her questions answered. Predictably, she falls asleep on the couch and misses his visit, which is depicted. But Santa leaves a note that assures her that “magic really does find a way.” This unique Christmas story will speak to many children whose lives don’t resemble the typical Christmas picture book featuring single-family homes with lawns and fireplaces. The vibrant colors and expressive faces give the illustrations an engaging energy. Deja’s family is Black with Jamaican roots, and Santa too is Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A valuable addition to the holiday shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11025-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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