Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, by Carmen Agra Deedy

Friday, March 24th, 2017

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Scholastic Press, 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Yes, I heard this book read by the author on Inauguration Day, 2017. Yes, this is a book with a message. Yes, I am a fan.

(And Carmen Agra Deedy had first regaled us with stories of her family. She is a magnificent storyteller!)

La Paz was a village “where streets rang with song from morning till night.”

You can hear the rhythm to Carmen Agra Deedy’s words with this early page:

Dogs bayed,
mothers crooned,
engines hummed,
fountains warbled,
and everybody sang in the shower.

But the village was a very noisy place, so the people elect a new mayor, who promises peace and quiet.

The new mayor’s rules start quite reasonable: “NO LOUD SINGING IN PUBLIC,” but they progress through NO LOUD SINGING AT HOME to NO SINGING to ¡BASTA! QUIET, ALREADY!

The village is now a very quiet place. Even the teakettles were afraid to whistle. But then a rooster wandered into the village with his family.

When the little rooster awoke the next morning, he did what roosters were born to do.

He sang:

Kee-kee-ree-KEE!

As his rotten luck would have it, the mango tree grew beneath the cranky mayor’s window.

Uh-oh.

A showdown proceeds between the rooster and the mayor. Here’s the first encounter:

“You, there!” groused Don Pepe. “No singing! It’s the law!”

“Well, that’s a silly law,” said the merry gallito. “Smell this sweet mango tree! How can I keep from singing?”

“Humph! Then I’ll chop down that stinky tree!” huffed Don Pepe. “Will you sing then?”

The plucky gallito shrugged. I may sing a less cheerful song. But I will sing.”

And he did.

As the encounters continue, the rooster sings a lonelier song, a hungrier song, and a darker song.

A crowd gathers for the final showdown, where the rooster says, “I sing for those who dare not sing – or have forgotten how. If I must sing for them as well, señor, how can I keep from singing?”

And when the mayor then threatens the rooster’s life, he proclaims:

“But a song is louder than one noisy little rooster and stronger than one bully of a mayor,” said the gallito. “And it will never die – so long as there is someone to sing it.”

And then the crowd joins in the little rooster’s song and causes the mayor to flee.

The Author’s Note at the back brings the point home. And though technically, that probably isn’t necessary, I so much love her way of putting it, and I feel the message is so timely, I’m going to copy it out here:

Roosters sing at sunrise; they also sing
at noon, sundown, and in the middle of the night.
Roosters sing when they please, and that’s all there is to that.

Much like roosters, human children are born with voices
strong and true – and irrepressible.

Then, bit by bit, most of us learn to temper our opinions,
censor our beliefs, and quiet our voices.

But not all of us.

There are always those who resist being silenced,
who will crow out their truth,
without regard to consequence.

Foolhardy or wise, they are the ones
who give us the courage to sing.

Thank you, Carmen Agra Deedy!

carmenagradeedy.com
eugeneyelchinbooks.com
scholastic.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Duck, Duck, Porcupine, by Salina Yoon

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Duck, Duck, Porcupine

by Salina Yoon

Bloomsbury, May 2016. 70 pages.

This has the feel of another classic beginning reader. We’ve got friends in everyday situations — with a payoff ending. The story is told using speech bubbles (as well as pictures of lists). There are three stories, so it’s preliminary to chapters.

Classic beginning readers have two best friends. In this book, we’ve got a trio. There’s Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. Big Duck seems to think she’s the leader, but in all three cases, Little Duck figures out a solution.

The bright colors and thick line drawings are visually pleasing. The pages of this book reach out to the reader. Yes, the text is in speech bubbles, but there are only a few words on a page, and even the youngest reader will not have any trouble following which speech comes next.

The promise is that this is the first of a new beginning reader series. I love seeing books that not only help a child who’s beginning to be able to read on their own, but also give them something they will be happy to read. This story is good enough that kids not able to read yet will enjoy it just as much as those who gain the pride of reading it all by themselves.

salinayoon.com
bloomsbury.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do! by Daisy Hirst

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do!

by Daisy Hirst

Candlewick Press, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #12 Picture Books

This book about being a big sister of an annoying little brother charmed me with its specific details.

The drawings are simple, such as a child would do. Natalie and her little brother Alphonse are some sort of monster. Natalie is red and Alphonse is blue.

The story is also simple.

They both liked naming the pigeons, [Banana! Lorraine!]

bouncing things off the bunk beds,
and stories in the chair.

And they both loved making things.

Except that Alphonse did sometimes draw on the things that Natalie made,
or eat them, and Natalie hated that.

I like that the author doesn’t need to tell us that Alphonse is being aggravating.

One day when lunch was peas
and TV was awful
and Mom did not understand, [What a lovely dog! It is a HORSE.]
Natalie found Alphonse under the bunk beds . . .

eating her favorite book.

“ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!” said Natalie.

What follows is Alphonse trying to reconcile with Natalie, and Natalie needing some time first. She draws a picture of awful things happening to Alphonse. I especially like the touch of the “swarm of peas.” Then she shuts herself in the bathroom and takes a bath.

But while she’s in the bath, she thinks she hears things happening to Alphonse like what she drew.

When she comes out and learns that Alphonse just created disasters while trying to get the tape to fix Natalie’s book, she’s just glad that Alphonse is okay.

It’s a simple story, but it warms my heart. Sometimes little siblings are incredibly annoying – but sometimes they’re creative partners.

candlewick.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Cow Said Meow, by John Himmelman

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The Cow Said Meow

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book makes me laugh. I think even toddlers who have learned their animal sounds will get the joke. Older kids will have fun explaining all they see happening.

The story is told through pictures – with the only words being the sounds the animals make shown in speech bubbles.

It’s raining. A cow is grazing in front of a house. We can see a warm living room inside the window. A cat stands at the door and says, “Meow.” On the next page, a little old lady with thick glasses lets the cat in as it purrs.

Then we’ve got a close-up of the cow’s face. It’s wet and its face droops, but it raises one eyebrow, clearly thinking.

On the next page, the cow goes to the door and says, “Meow.” The little old lady with thick glasses and squinty eyes lets it in, too. The cow is sure to purr as she goes in – and we see a pig in the foreground.

A close-up of the pig’s face shows the pig thinking. It mimics the cow. Followed by a chicken, a donkey, a goat, and a duck. There’s also an element of the Telephone Game, because each animal from the donkey on says Heeow instead of Meow.

Finally all the animals are in the house, saying variants of Meow and Purr, with the cat behind a curtain saying Hiss. But then it all falls apart, and the animals start making their own noises. The little old lady’s eyes get opened, and they’re sent back out into the rain.

Then we see a dog say “Woof.” The lady opens the door….

You might be surprised how good wordless books are for getting little ones to use their own words. This one has the added attraction of silly animal sounds and situations.

Wonderful silly fun.

mackids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Horrible Bear, by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Horrible Bear!

by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #10 Picture Books

I confess: I’m a big fan of Zachariah OHora’s exuberant illustrations. They’re just right for this book.

A little girl with a wild mop of curly red hair is flying a kite. (I like the way the front end papers are filled with her hair and the back end papers are filled with the furry top of the bear’s head.) The kite flying is shown silently on the title page. If you look closely, you notice the string has just snapped. The kite is next to a mountain with an open doorway near the top and a welcome mat.

On the next page, the text just reads, “A girl peeked into bear’s cave.” The pictures show us that the kite has entered the cave and is sitting on top of a sleeping bear lying in the middle of the floor with a pillow.

The next page says, “She reached – but he rolled.” And we see the kite go “Crunch!” beneath the bear.

That’s when the drama begins.

HORRIBLE BEAR! the girl shouted.

She goes stomping off, continuing to shout about the horrible bear.

Then the bear gets angry in his turn. After all, SHE barged in! SHE made a ruckus! SHE woke him up!

Then he gets a horrible bear idea to show her what it feels like.

Meanwhile, in her house, the girl, still angry, accidentally tears the ear off of her stuffy. She didn’t mean to! And that’s when she realizes maybe the bear didn’t mean to be horrible.

But the bear is practicing to show the girl how it feels. He comes stomping down the mountain.

When the girl meets him with an apology and tears, the situation takes a whole new flavor.

This book is a child-sized look at anger and apology and accidental wrongs. That it involves a bear wearing a “Froggy Hollow Summer Camp” t-shirt and sneakers makes it all the more accessible. I love the way the two come up with Sweet Bear ideas at the end, with an acknowledgement that the Sweetness may not last forever. There are lots of points of discussion with small readers in this book.

And those exuberant Zachariah OHora illustrations! The Horrible Bear has as much giant-sized gentleness combined with ferocity as Nilson in No Fits, Nilson!

I also love some clever details in the illustrations – a copy of Wolfie the Bunny in the girl’s room, and then a book called Goldilocks that she kicks. In the bear’s cave, we see a stack of books with titles, Blueberries, The Goldilocks Myth, and 1000 Ways to Cook Porridge.

And I just noticed for the first time that the back cover of the book shows the bear riding happily on the little girl’s purple bike with his friend the bat (animal, not baseball) in the basket.

@AmeDyckman
zohora.com
lb-kids.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Water Princess, by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

The Water Princess

Based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel

by Susan Verde

illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016. 40 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 Picture Books

Here is a picture book with a message – but the creators wisely made telling a good story a higher priority than just getting the message across.

As the book opens, we are introduced to Princess Gie Gie. I’ve long been a fan of Peter H. Reynolds, and here his work is more detailed – and more beautiful – than ever before. We see Princess Gie Gie first looking up into a sky full of stars.

As we turn the page, we learn her location:

My kingdom . . .
the African sky, so wide and so close.
I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.

First, Gie Gie talks about the things she can do – taming the wild dogs, making the tall grass sway, and making the wind play hide-and-seek. But Gie Gie cannot make the water come closer or run clearer.

Each morning, when it is still dark, Gie Gie and her mother set off to collect the water. Most of the book is about that journey. I love the way Gie Gie is still dramatic and joyful, even though she doesn’t want to get up early and go for the long walk. Even though she wishes she could bring the water by magic.

I also love the way Gie Gie’s parents consistently address her as “princess.” I like the way, when she brings the water back, she celebrates the achievement.

At the water hole, Gie Gie plays with her friends while her mother holds their place in line. The water there is dusty and earth colored, but it is flowing, and they make the journey back with full pots on their heads.

I also love the page at the end of the day, after they have used the water:

Clothes and body clean,
I sing to the dogs.
I dance with the tall grass.
I hide from the wind.

At bedtime, Gie Gie asks her mother “Why is the water so far? Why is the water not clear? Where is our water?”

The final spread answers:

“Sleep,” she says.
“Dream,” she says.
“Someday you will find a way, my princess.
Someday.”

I am Princess Gie Gie.
My kingdom?
The African sky. The dusty earth.

And, someday,
the flowing cool, crystal-clear water.
Someday …

After that final page of the story, there is a spread with a note from the creators and photographs of children in Africa getting water. They explain that nearly one billion people around the world don’t have access to clean water.

This crisis is what motivated African model Georgie Badiel to work to make a difference and get clean water to those in need. As a young girl in Burkina Faso, Georgie spent her summers living with her grandmother. Every morning, Georgie and the other girls and women of the village walked for miles to fill pots with water and return it home to be used for the basics – drinking, bathing, cooking – only to wake up the next morning and make the journey again.

Georgie Badiel is now working with Ryan’s Well to bring clean water to people of Burkina Faso and beyond.

This book has a wonderful message – but they communicate that message by means of a lovely story. They manage to show a joyful, playful child who happens to face a difficult task every morning.

ryanswell.ca
georgiebadielfoundation.org
susanverde.com
peterhreynolds.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

A Story About Knitting and Love

by Michelle Edwards
illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #5 Picture Books
2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalist

Oh, here is a picture book for knitters to love!

Unlike many stories about knitting, it acknowledges that knitting is difficult and takes a long time. And this ends up being a beautiful story about showing love by knitting.

Mrs. Goldman knits hats for the whole neighborhood, including Sophia.

“Keeping keppies warm is our mitzvah,” says Mrs. Goldman, kissing the top of Sophia’s head. “This is your keppie, and a mitzvah is a good deed.

Sophia goes with Mrs. Goldman when she walks her dog Fifi, and Sophia notices that Mrs. Goldman doesn’t have a hat any more. She gave it to Mrs. Chen.

Sophia gets an idea.

Last year, Mrs. Goldman taught Sophia how to knit.
“I only like making pom-poms,” decided Sophia after a few days.
“Knitting is hard. And it takes too long.”

Now Sophia digs out the knitting bag Mrs. Goldman gave her. And the hat they started.
The stitches are straight and even. The soft wool smells like Mrs. Goldman’s chicken soup.

Sophia holds the needles and tries to remember what to do. She drops one stitch. She drops another.

Still Sophia knits on. She wants to make Mrs. Goldman the most special hat in the world.

Sophia works hard on that hat. For a long time. Finally she finishes knitting and sews it up.

I love that the hat doesn’t look very good. In fact, it looks like a monster hat.

But Sophia’s solution is wonderful, and fits with what went before. She covers the hat with red pom-poms. When she gives it to Mrs. Goldman, she says it reminds her of Mr. Goldman’s rosebushes.

And now her keppie is toasty warm. And that’s a mitzvah.

The book finishes up with instructions for knitting a simple hat and for making pom-poms.

(Hmmm. Now as I post this, I think it’s pretty much a Pussy hat. But you can cover it with pom-poms if you like. Or not.)

This is a beautiful story, as it says, about knitting and love.

michelledwards.com
gbriankaras.com
randomhousekids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of A Poem for Peter, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, pictures by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

A Poem for Peter

The Story of EZRA JACK KEATS and the Creation of THE SNOWY DAY

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

pictures by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Viking, 2016. 52 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Children’s Nonfiction

This is a picture book biography — in poetry form. And the narrative poem is written addressing Peter, the hero of the classic picture book The Snowy Day.

We’ve got all the details of Ezra Jack Keats’ life. His parents were immigrants from Poland, and he grew up in Brooklyn, knowing about poverty and discrimination. Even as a child, he wanted to be an artist, and his father found ways to get him paints. There are a couple of special pages when he discovered the Brooklyn Public Library.

It tells about the art scholarship he won and had to give up when his father died of a heart attack, then about his struggles finding work during the Depression — eventually getting to work as an artist with the Works Progress Administration. Then he served in World War II, but after the war had to change his name from Jacob Ezra Katz to sound less Jewish in order to get work.

When Ezra started writing and illustrating picture books, he’d noticed there weren’t many picture book scenes like those in his Brooklyn neighborhood, nor many children who looked like his neighbors.

I especially like the pages when Peter is created and the book is born.

Peter, child,
you brought your stick.
Yes, you did.
Smack-smacked at a tree.
Some say you were whacking
at ice-packed intolerance,
shaking it loose from narrow-
minded branches.

When prejudice fell,
you rolled it, packed it,
put its snowball in your pocket
of possibility,
where it melted away.

Peter and Ezra,
you made a great team.
Together you brought a snowstorm
of dreams.
A blizzard of imagination.
Flurries of fun!

And soon readers called for
more of where are you?
And between you two,
the one-of-a-kind snowflakes
kept falling.
Onto sweet pages
of brown-sugar good.

More neighborhood friends.
More books with kids who
answered where are you?
with here we are!

The art is lovely as well, with many images of Peter straight out of Ezra Jack Keats’ work and lovely snowflake pictures, as well as a variety of images illustrating Ezra’s life.

penguin.com/YoungReaders

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Nanette’s Baguette, by Mo Willems

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Nanette’s Baguette

by Mo Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Picture Books

Hooray! A new Mo Willems book! With new characters!

Mo Willems recently spent significant time in Paris, so some of his recent books have a French theme. Nanette’s Baguette is a story with all the fun of any Mo Willems book about a frog who gets to go buy a baguette all by herself for the very first time.

My one quibble? Frogs with teeth able to Krack into baguettes? Okay, it’s odd, but he makes it work.

The book is full of –ette rhymes, and they are done well and add to the humor.

Here’s the beginning:

NANETTE!

Today is a day Nanette won’t soon forget.

Today,
in the kitchenette,
Mom tells Nanette
that Nanette gets
to get the baguette!

Baguettes are warm.
Baguettes smell wonderful.

Getting to get the baguette is
Nanette’s biggest responsibility yet.

Is Nanette set to get the baguette?

YOU BET!

When Nanette gets the baguette, it indeed is warm. It indeed smells wonderful. And there sure is a lot of it….

Or at least there’s a lot of it for awhile.

After much drama, here’s the scene when she gets home:

“Where is the baguette, Nanette?” asks Mom. Did you forget?”

Nanette did not forget.
Nanette is upset.
Nanette is beset with regret.
She sweats.
I ATE THE BAGUETTE!

Mom is understanding and kind. (I love that Mom’s hug is as warm and wonderful as a million baguettes.) They go back to get another baguette. But that baguette, too, is warm and smells wonderful. This time Mom is the one who’s tempted….

The illustrations in this book are amazing. A note at the back explains, “The images in this story are comprised of photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions digitally integrated with photographed illustrations and additions.” On the back flap, there are some small pictures of Mo Willems creating it, so you can see the small village with the creator standing behind it.

I was going to say that the pigeon isn’t hidden in this book – and then I found him in a clever place. So that will please Mo Willems’ many fans.

Again, I’m not so sure about frogs. I wouldn’t be sure they actually are frogs except for the pictures on the wall in their house. (Teeth? Really?) But his simple cartoon characters always do work. As always, I like the way he can put so much emotion into such seemingly simple faces.

And it begs to be read aloud. So much fun as it rolls off your tongue! I’m definitely using this book for my very next storytime.

Nanette’s Baguette may be Mo’s best yet!

pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Stowaway in a Sleigh, by C. Roger Madder

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

stowaway_in_a_sleigh_largeStowaway in a Sleigh

by C. Roger Madder

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s another new Christmas picture book that passed the hurdle of my approval. This one’s appropriate for very young kids, because there aren’t many words on each page, and the story is simple. The paintings are lovely, and bring you to a cat’s viewpoint.

It was the darkest hour of night when Slipper heard strange footsteps in the house.

When she goes to investigate, she finds Mr. Furry Boots! Kids will know this is Santa Claus.

My favorite part is when Slipper does “exactly what any curious cat would do” — she climbs into Santa’s bag.

Santa unwittingly brings the cat back to the North Pole, where Mrs. Furry Boots lets the cat out of the bag.

Slipper has a good time exploring Santa’s workshop, but when she starts longing for home, Santa makes a special trip to deliver her.

The story is one kids can understand and empathize with, and much of it is told through the beautiful illustrations. I plan to remember this book for December story times next year.

hmhco.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?