THE BIGGEST LITTLE BOY

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Luca loves big things, but he learns that sometimes small things are just right.

Luca lives in a big city, and he loves big things, from big trucks and big buildings to big dogs. But he especially loves big trees. Luca has always tried to climb the biggest tree in Triangle Park, because climbing a big tree makes him feel big. He finds it tough being small in the big, busy city, surrounded by big people who are always looking up. As Christmas approaches, Luca decides he wants to get the biggest Christmas tree in the whole city. But the trees at the Christmas tree market aren’t big enough for Luca. One day, while walking through the market with his mom, looking up at the not-big-enough trees, Luca trips over something. It’s a small tree, about his size. He smiles at the tree. The tree seems to smile back. Luca knows that this tree is special, and when he brings it home and decorates it, Luca feels big. The story ends with an explicit statement of a heartfelt sentiment that could have been left simply to be felt through the story itself, but until that point, the pacing and the character’s yearning are just right, delivering an engaging story that small children will relate to. The sweet, pleasantly varied illustrations depict Luca as a brown boy with curly hair and freckles; his mom appears Black, and his dad presents as White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Delightful and resonant. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20457-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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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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