Like so many books commemorating the season, sweet but unremarkable.


Rhyming verse describes various Christmas symbols and events, grouped by color, as four children celebrate the season.

The dominant color in Gamble’s palette shifts accordingly from red through green, gold, blue, and white to brown before concluding pages shift from hues to “you.” The children, two White kids who may be preschoolers or early-elementary children, one Asian child about the same age, and another Asian child who is a young toddler, decorate the tree, go to a Christmas fair, go ice-skating, and participate in a Nativity play, among other activities. The children’s caregivers are largely absent, leaving readers to parse the children’s relationships as they will: They could be siblings, two sets of cousins, or good friends. Other children of varied racial presentation appear in the background. Turner’s verse makes some odd twists and turns, with forced rhymes and/or scansion in more than one or two spots. “Christmas is GOLD. / It’s bright ribbon unrolled. / It’s jingling bells / and warm, yummy smells. / It’s heirlooms YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HOLD. / It’s dancers all tapping among holiday trappings. / It’s nutcracker crowns / and Christmas Eve gowns. / It’s glittery gift wrapping.” Like the verse, the illustrations are also sometimes awkward, the children sometimes seeming as if they are pasted onto a space rather than painted into it. A little mouse in a snowsuit appears in many spreads. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 92.3% of actual size.)

Like so many books commemorating the season, sweet but unremarkable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65414-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.


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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