A solid introduction to a holiday celebrated by millions.

SHUBH DIWALI!

Soundar’s rhyming picture book gives readers an overview of the Hindu celebration of Diwali as it is celebrated in large parts of North India and by the North Indian diaspora.

Diwali is celebrated on the night of the new moon, and so after “Grandpa watches the waning moon” and notes that “the festival is coming soon,” an Indian boy and girl help their family clean and decorate the house. Then they all don new clothes, sing hymns and light lamps together, and exchange gifts and sweets with their neighbors, all in celebration of the holiday. Family members wear a combination of traditional Indian and Western attire; the suburban setting looks Western. It ends with a joyful greeting: “Shubh Diwali, to one and all. / We wish you joy, big and small!” Soundar’s use of “Shubh” in the title—meaning “auspicious” or “holy”—instead of “Happy” is welcome, as is Chua’s inclusion of neighborhood diversity (white and black families as well as a person using a wheelchair). As an entry on the holidays shelf, it breaks little new ground, but North American shelves hardly overflow with Diwali titles. An author’s note explaining the regional and religious differences in the celebration of Diwali across South Asia and the diaspora and a glossary of common terms provide readers with additional scaffolding.

A solid introduction to a holiday celebrated by millions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7355-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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