SEE SANTA NAP

From the Adventures of Otto series

Milgrim is still on a roll with his clever early reader series featuring Otto the robot and his group of animal buddies. In this fifth entry in the series, Otto and friends are all on an island vacation with Santa, who just wants to kick back and enjoy some rest after passing out all those gifts. As Santa tries to nap, each character uses a new Christmas gift to interrupt the poor tired fellow. Otto finally uses his new fishing rod to save Santa by hooking him by his candy-cane-printed swimsuit and flinging him up into the robot’s tree house for a well-deserved rest. Though Milgrim uses the stereotypical short sentence structures found in lesser beginning readers, in his hands the short strings of repetitive words are hilarious. He also has a deft touch with his humorous illustrations full of quirky characters and slapstick comedy. Though beginning readers will love this latest Otto story, preschoolers and older kids will enjoy it too (as will the grown-ups, who know what it’s like to need a nap after Christmas). (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85928-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2004

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A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution.

NIGHT LIGHTS

A SUKKOT STORY

On the first night of Sukkot, Daniel is apprehensive about sleeping in the dark sukkah without a night light.

Older sister Naomi likes to show off her knowledge acquired in Hebrew school, so she tells Daniel all about the holiday. She explains how Jews remember the ancestors’ journey from Egypt, why the sukkah is built, and the reason for an open roof made of tree branches. Once the building and decorating of their sukkah is finished, Daniel’s quiet anxiety parallels Naomi’s eager excitement through the family’s outdoor dinner. At bedtime, the siblings create a makeshift sleeping area in a corner of the sukkah. In the dark, scary nighttime noises and shadowy images disturb Daniel to the point where he begins to go inside. But to his surprise, Naomi, who has a touch of the heebie-jeebies herself, encourages him to stay and look up through the branches of the sukkah’s open roof. He sees a sky full of stars, or “night lights,” as they glowed for the ancestors thousands of years ago. Soft paintings provide a contemporary view of a White Jewish family with some parallel historical scenes of the forbearers making their way through the desert. The interwoven explanation of the holiday within the context of the story is enhanced with an afterword that references today’s refugees, who must live under precarious circumstances in temporary shelters.

A child’s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister’s comforting, natural solution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-547-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

THE LITTLE WITCH'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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