Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or
Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

Bruce Hale, illus. by Guy Francis. Harper, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-237452-3

Clark the Shark’s personality is as big as ever in his fifth picture book, which focuses on the Christmas preparations at Theodore Roosterfish Elementary. The eyes of Clark’s aquatic classmates widen with alarm as he carols loudly and throws his weight around while decorating a kelp tree, but Clark’s biggest challenge comes when it’s time for Secret Santa: he’s so focused on figuring out who is getting him a gift that he doesn’t put much thought into his gift for Benny Blowfish. Come gift-opening time, Clark feels twinges of guilt and remorse, but Hale lets him off the hook pretty easily—Benny loves the Captain Suckermouth comic book Clark had originally purchased for himself. It’s a light, breezy reminder that the giving beats the getting where Christmas gifts are concerned. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Christmas in the Barn

Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Anna Dewdney. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-237986-3

A rough-hewn barn of stone and wood, nestled in a field dotted with sheep and palm trees, sets the scene for this newly illustrated version of Brown’s cozy 1952 story of Jesus’s birth. The late Dewdney’s canvas-textured, mixed-media artwork is well-matched to Brown’s spare, rhyming text, which incorporates phrases from hymns and the Bible (“Away in a manger, no crib for his bed”; “Because there was no room in the inn”) as it introduces a cast of animal onlookers (“The little mice rustled in the sweet dry grass/ Near the lambs and the kine and the ox and the ass”). The rugged landscape and lantern-lit barn are depicted at sunset, night, and daybreak from a variety of perspectives, the warm palette and forceful brushstrokes conveying the story’s hushed refrain: “And there they were all safe and warm/ All together in that ancient barn.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Candy Cane Lane

Scott Santoro. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5661-6

Inspired by the plastic choirboy that decorated Santoro’s childhood lawn at Christmas, this offbeat story opens on Candy Cane Lane, where dazzling Christmas displays adorn all the houses, except for one. In that small house, a girl whose father can’t afford decorations is thrilled to discover a discarded choirboy after a storm, but her father accidentally returns it to the trash. In a wild chain of events, the choirboy befriends a plastic reindeer and Halloween ghost, arrives at a factory filled with rejected lawn ornaments (“There was a Santa with a green coat, a camel with three humps, wise men without gifts, and a snowman who looked melted”), and leads them back to Candy Cane Lane to brighten the girl’s yard and spirits. Santoro’s (Which Way to Witch School?) brassy digital cartoons have an appealing 1960s vibe, and his cast of playful misfits cements the idea that the holidays are for everyone. Ages 4–8. Agent: Scott Gould, RLR Associates. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Babushka: A Christmas Tale

Dawn Casey, illus. by Amanda Hall. Good Books, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68099-188-8

In a lovely recounting of a classic Russian legend, Babushka, an elderly woman who lives alone in a modest cottage, is visited by the three wise men, who urge her to join them as they bring gifts to the newborn king. Babushka stays behind to wash the dishes (she “was forever scrubbing and sweeping, washing and wiping, dusting and polishing”); later, she feels compelled to seek out the child but can’t find the star to guide her. Her journey through the snowy countryside instead leads her to cold and hungry children, whom she helps by giving the food and clothing she has brought with her. Hall’s (Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward) vibrant illustrations feature jewel tones of pink, purple, turquoise, and gold, setting the snowy landscape aglow as Casey (A Lullaby for Little One) gracefully delivers a message about selflessness and how kindness begets kindness. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Night of Great Joy

Mary Engelbreit. Zonderkidz, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-74354-5

An elementary-school Christmas pageant plays out with warm humor in Engelbreit’s (The Night Before Christmas) holiday offering. The author’s cherubic characters perform the Nativity story using rudimentary props that will trigger smiles: a robed Joseph with a comically fake beard pulls Mary in a red wagon outfitted with a donkey head, a rocking horse and a rubber duck keep watch in the stable, the newborn Jesus is a rag doll, and stuffed animals fill in for sheep. The narrative is a straightforward, pared-down version of the biblical tale, without dialogue, which leaves the pictures to showcase the children’s personalities (two shepherds fight over a toy lamb, a prima donna’s antics irk her fellow angels, and a costumed cow falls asleep as the Wise Men arrive). The Nativity tale is one of great things born out of humble circumstances, a theme that dovetails perfectly with the homespun staging of the children’s production. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story

Kallie George, illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-553-52481-9

After Santa drops a package in the woods, a quartet of animals attempts to deliver the gift to its proper destination, in a tender story set in a hushed forest. George (Duck, Duck, Dinosaur) succinctly sketches personalities for her heroes—Rabbit is the exuberant optimist, Bird gets things done, Deer helps cheerfully, and Squirrel is a kvetch. There are some hiccups on their way to a nearby farmhouse, but it’s all worth it when they see the New Baby open her gift from Santa, a rattle. (Or, as Squirrel puts it, “a noisy, lumpy stick.”) Graegin (How to Share with a Bear) creates sweeping expanses of moonlit snow for the animals to traverse under midnight blue Christmas Eve skies, creating an atmosphere of quiet magic as the animals discover the rewards of doing a kind deed. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Jesus Is Born

Sophie Piper, illus. by Anne Yvonne Gilbert. Good Books, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68099-187-1

Adapted from the familiar passages from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, Piper’s (The Child of Christmas) interpretation of the Nativity features crisp sentences and a confident narrative flow (“All at once the sky went dark. The shepherds were astonished. Had they all been dreaming? Or had they really seen angels, and was the message true?”), resulting in a captivating retelling. Gilbert’s (The Frog Prince) pale colored-pencil compositions are alternately delicate and dramatic, with scenes that include shepherds cowering in fear and Mary gently kissing her newborn’s face while being embraced by Joseph. The illustrator’s human figures are nearly photo-realistic in their detail, and they capture a wealth of emotion in their facial expressions and body language. It’s a thorough and reverential account, whose gentle language and detail-rich illustrations invite multiple readings and careful perusal. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
How to Catch an Elf

Adam Wallace, illus. by Andy Elkerton. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4926-4631-0

The team behind How to Catch a Leprechaun follows the efforts of several children—clearly ones who are destined for Santa’s naughty list—to capture one of Santa’s elves. Mischievous readers will likely enjoy watching the tiny elf attempt to escape traps that include a tinsel net, a family cat, and (somewhat disturbingly) sticks of dynamite nestled in a pile of chocolates, as well as a cowboy tree ornament wielding an electric brand. Why all the threats of violence against someone who’s part of Santa’s gift-delivery operation? It’s never really clear, and before long Santa and the elf are narrowly escaping hams and cookies fired at them through a “Dinner Cannon,” coasting down a river of eggnog, and soaring across the sky on a pizza. Wallace’s rhymes and Elkerton’s in-your-face images hit their comedic marks, but the overall story is chaotic and confusing. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold

Maureen Fergus, illus. by Cale Atkinson. Tundra, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77049-824-2

In a very funny story that flips the script on children’s doubts about the existence of Santa Claus, a grumpy Santa reveals that he has stopped believing in a boy named Harold. Fergus’s (the Buddy and Earl series) inversions of charges often leveled against Santa are deliciously fun. “That Harold who sat on my knee at the mall last year didn’t even look like the real Harold,” Santa tells Mrs. Claus. Atkinson (Explorers of the Wild) gleefully channels Santa’s surliness (his scowls and frowns suggest a child in the throes of a very bad mood), and he gives Harold (who is white) interracial parents, which could give the story added resonance for adopted children. Harold is just as skeptical about Santa, but Christmas morning lets them put their doubts to rest. Fergus and Atkinson commit fully to their premise, working in comic synch to deliver laughs on every page. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Christmas Horse and the Three Wise Men

Isabelle Brent. Wisdom Tales, $17.95 (28p) ISBN 978-1-937786-61-8

Writing in the chipper voice of Safanad—a white horse belonging to Melchior, one of the Three Wise Men—Brent (Saint Anthony the Great) imagines the roles that animals played during the journey to Bethlehem. “I was excited to meet Caspar’s camel, Gamali, and Balthazar’s elephant, Simbalo,” says the horse, anticipating the arrival of the other Magi. Brief biblical passages provide prompts as Safanad chattily reveals how each animal facilitates the trip: the elephant shields the horse and camel from a sand storm, moves boulders blocking their path, and miraculously calms a river’s current so they can cross; the camel leads them through a mirage-filled desert; and Safanad offers encouragement. Framed by vivid borders, Brent’s images highlight the diverse terrain the travelers cover and showcase the cooperative efforts of the animals, though her human characters are less polished. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/23/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.