Keep sniffing to find a better story; though innocuous, this one is unlikely to be a favorite.



Brock Eastman teams up with his 7-year-old daughter in the family-oriented follow-up to Daddy’s Favorite Sound (2019).

In this tale that’s loosely inspired by a passage from 2 Corinthians about the “pleasing aroma of Christ,” Little Lion catches a whiff of delicious cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. This sends the anthropomorphic cub, who wears overalls and a T-shirt, on a quest to discover her mother’s favorite smell. Depicted in Miles’ illustrations as variously colored inky emanations, some smells encountered along the way are pleasant, such as the smells of rain, campfire, and fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. Others are not and are clearly presented in an attempt to be humorous, as not even a lion is likely to claim dirty diaper, hot compost, or generally odorless tulips among their favorite scents. After encouraging Little Lion to “keep sniffing” throughout the day, Mommy Lion finally gives in while snuggling together with her cub before bed: Her favorite smell is the smell of her children. This lion family inhabits a comfortably appointed home and wears Western clothing (but no shoes). The text is on the long side for a preschool audience, and the repetition of Little Lion’s question and Mommy’s answers, rendered as a rhyming couplet, grows tedious. The scriptural connection is a stretch, a closing prayer a bit trite, and suggested discussion questions tepid, though the recipe for chocolate-chip cookies might tempt some readers.

Keep sniffing to find a better story; though innocuous, this one is unlikely to be a favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7369-7476-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harvest House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.


From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A standout among books to share on Christmas Eve.


Stunning illustrations bring new life to a well-loved Christmas carol.

Using only the familiar carol’s lyrics as the text, the story of the Nativity is gorgeously brought to life. Mary and Joseph journey through the hills of Galilee on their way to Bethlehem. Hawthorne boldly paints the night sky black, against which a mosaic of colors stands out like stained glass. Importantly, and perhaps just as boldly, she depicts the Holy Family as dark-skinned. In a Middle Eastern style of portraiture that finds echoes in early Christian art, the geometric, quiltlike design in gouache evokes the serenity of the words. One can picture a family quietly singing this book aloud, allowing the eye to linger on images of twinkling stars, angels, pomegranate trees, and animals spilled across perfectly paced pages. The characters are portrayed with a variety of brown skin tones, but the darkest belong to Mary and Jesus. On the last spread, as the sky becomes a deep blue, the perspective pulls back to reveal the stable in the full hillside setting. With the moon and stars above, the words “Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace” bring the story to a close. The full text of the carol is provided at end along with information about its Austrian origins.

A standout among books to share on Christmas Eve. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78603-066-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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