A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family.

THE BROKEN ORNAMENT

Jack needs some magic to help make this year’s Christmas the best ever.

Shiny, red-foil borders and embossed lettering on the cover invite readers into a suburban household of the mid-20th century. On Christmas Eve, Jack is dissatisfied with the decorating job that he and his parents have done. He finds one last ornament, but his mother says in alarm, “Not that one!” Jack accidentally breaks it, leaving his mother in tears. A tiny fairy called Tinsel appears with tinkly bells to help Jack fulfill his wish. Saying, “let’s deck these halls!” Tinsel tosses glitter, and a large tree bursts through the floor. Caroling elves burst through the door, followed by reindeer, nutcrackers, and snowmen. Double-page–spread illustrations show the house filled with holiday fun. (Children will wonder why Jack’s parents don’t seem to notice it, though.) Jack can’t get enough of the magic, but remembering the broken ornament, he asks Tinsel for help. She can’t give him a new ornament but does offer him a glimpse of his mother’s past that helps Jack understand his mother’s heartbreak and see a way to make amends. Slightly overlong landscape design, old-fashioned furnishings, and endpapers filled with ornaments give this a feeling of personal reminiscence. Jack, his parents, Tinsel, and two of the elves present white, but the third elf has brown skin.

A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of “Christmas magic” working its charms on a family. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3976-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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