For families interested in revisiting a favorite Christmas theme.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY

An Alpine village is the setting for a retelling of the story behind this Christmas carol.

As day breaks over the mountains, a homeless, orphan boy named Benjamin plays his drum outdoors. When travelers invite Benjamin to accompany them to honor a newborn king, he declines, having nothing to bring and ashamed of his shabby appearance. His friend Rachel convinces him to go along with her. She too is dressed in ragged clothes but tells him, “It does not matter….He will not look at our clothes, only into our hearts.” As the villagers gather by the stable, Benjamin plays his drum. Soft pastels create a beautiful atmosphere with light glittering from a star overhead and the golden glow of hearths below. Nonetheless, some of the charm of the carol is lost by the expansion of the lyrics into a full story with named characters. The song, with its soft, repetitive refrain and first-person perspective, leaves room for the imagination to fill in the emotional range of a magical experience. This feels a bit forced, especially with the addition of Rachel, who has her own gift as well as the volition that Benjamin lacks. Benjamin, Rachel, and the rest of the characters present white. Backmatter includes a brief biography of the Brothers Grimm although there’s no discernible attribution or connection to the song or story.

For families interested in revisiting a favorite Christmas theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4325-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Proving even pooped piggies are ready to party, this will make children want to join in.

PIG HAS A PLAN

From the I Like To Read series

A noisy barnyard is no place for a nap!

Poor pig, all he wants to do is take a short snooze. However, there seems to be something going on around him. Each of his farm friends is making noise of one kind or another. “Hen wants to saw.” “Dog wants to tap.” “Hog wants to hum.” Pig looks closer and closer to fainting from exhaustion until he spies some drinking straws and has an idea. He sinks himself in his mud puddle and breathes through a straw snorkel. He’s finally able to catch some Z’s…but all those barnyard noises had a purpose: prep for a piggy birthday celebration. So much for napping! Long’s entry in the I Like to Read series tells its simple tale in 47 words, nearly all of which are of the single-syllable, easy-to-sound-out variety. Bright pastel-and-primary full-bleed illustrations featuring big-eyed farm folk will keep eyes on the page during storytime or guided independent reading. The visual humor and the easy-reading text make this a winner for readers just starting out.

Proving even pooped piggies are ready to party, this will make children want to join in. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2428-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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