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Dino-Christmas

Lisa Wheeler, illus. by Barry Gott. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5124-0315-2

“Dino-Christmastime is here,” and the dinos are taking part in all sorts of seasonal activities. They play in the snow, ice skate, and hang decorations around their city. Wheeler writes in cheery, rhyming couplets that introduce the dinosaurs by species: “Allosaurus makes each wreath./ She gently hangs them with her teeth./ Troodon’s at First and Main./ He paints a giant candy cane.” Gott’s bright digital depictions of the rowdy dinosaurs are already great fun; seeing them crunch down on Christmas cookies, sing carols, and parade in the streets ups the ante. A last spread makes a broad hint at the next holiday to come: “Soon these guys will reconvene.../ all dressed for Dino-Halloween!” Ages 5–9. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Pete the Cat’s 12 Groovy Days of Christmas

Kimberly Dean and James Dean. HarperCollins, $12.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-267527-9

In a riff on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” Pete the Cat celebrates the holiday in his usual nonplussed fashion. For each day, Pete gives gifts to his friends, including previously appearing characters. The first gift sets the stage: “On the first day of Christmas/ Pete gave to me... a road trip to the sea. Groovy!” One by one, the animal friends load into Pete’s yellow bus. Pete gifts his friends with “four far-out surf boards,” “eight guitars strumming,” and even “five onion rings”—all packed into or precariously stacked atop the bus. The book concludes on the 12th day, with a musical beach party. Though the lyrics aren’t quite as smooth as Pete himself, the Christmas road trip is a “rockin’ ” diversion. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Merry Christmas, Little Elliot

Mike Curato. Holt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-18589-1

Little Elliot, the white and pastel-polka-dotted elephant, is regretfully lacking Christmas spirit. With friend Mouse, Elliot looks for inspiration from the department store Santa, at a production of The Nutcracker, in the tree in Rockefeller Center, and sledding in Central Park. When Elliot discovers a lost letter from a child to Santa, he and Mouse take a yellow cab out of the city and to a quiet country house, where they deliver themselves in response to the girl’s modest request: “Dear Santa, for Christmas I would like some good friends.” With elegant scenes that seem lifted from a bygone New York City, Curato again enhances a quiet story about friendship and belonging. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t!

Elise Parsley. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-46677-6

Pirate meets Santa—what could possibly go wrong? In this holiday-themed addition to the series that began with If You Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!, an enthusiastic heroine buddies up with a pirate while waiting to see Santa. Following her “don’t do as I do” formula, Parsley describes the pirate’s naughty-list shenanigans, which include interrupting Christmas carolers with a round of sea chanteys and brandishing a swordfish at the crowd. With the pirate’s red suit, scraggly beard, and Jolly Roger bandana, he looks like Santa’s creepy, long lost sibling. An elf freak-out and Santa walking the (mall fountain) plank ratchets up the chaos. Readers should appreciate that the pirate’s moment of redemption is quickly eclipsed by his undeniably naughty nature. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?

Brianna Caplan Sayres, illus. by Christian Slade. Random House, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5247-7215-4

In the fourth of her vehicle-themed series, Sayres theorizes how different types of trucks—forklifts, mixers, cranes, tanker trucks, and others—might celebrate Christmas. She writes in pleasantly rhyming verse: “Where do tractors celebrate Christmas/ after plowing row by row?” Slade’s artwork shows the bright-eyed, anthropomorphic trucks hanging Christmas decorations, sipping eggnog, and cuddling up beneath mistletoe. All the trucks celebrate together at a snowy construction site until, finally, the trucks come closer to home, appearing toy-size under a tree. Beyond the playful depictions of trucks indulging in Christmas cheer, readers might especially enjoy details about the heavy lifting the trucks do during their day’s work. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Lost Christmas

B.B. Cronin. Viking, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-451-47904-4

Cronin returns to the candy-colored world of The Lost House and The Lost Picnic for a holiday seek-and-find just difficult enough for poring over. On a snowy Christmas Eve, “the children” visit their mustachioed grandfather in his spectacularly cluttered home, planning to help him decorate. Grandad has lost the ornaments, and readers can join the children in the search. Cronin details the ornaments to be found: “the rabbit on a sled, the red lantern, the accordion player, the circus performer, and the man with the green mustache.” In the artist’s distinctive acrylics, the children and grandfather have a curious cuteness reminiscent of vintage Little Golden Book characters. The daring shades of neon pink, green, and yellow practically vibrate on the pages. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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I Got the Christmas Spirit

Connie Schofield-Morrison, illus. by Frank Morrison. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68119-528-5

The ebullient girl who first appeared in Schofield-Morrison’s I Got the Rhythm wakes up brimming with Christmas spirit. She and her mother venture into the snowy streets of their diverse city neighborhood. As the girl—cozily dressed in a purple parka—admires a festive department store window, “I sparkled in the spirit of the lights.” The child joins a group of carolers and inhales the sweet smell of roasting nuts. She even brings cheer to a grumpy Santa: “I spread the spirit with my smile.” Morrison’s oil paintings capture the crackling energy of a city preparing for Christmas; the married coauthors’ message about cultivating kindness, gratitude, and community the whole year through sings on the page. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Santa Bruce

Ryan T. Higgins. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-148478290-3

Bruce, a curmudgeonly blue bear, is no stranger to cases of mistaken identity, and he’d just as soon skip the holiday (“Bruce did not like fun./ Bruce did not like cheer.”). But being a “mother” to a gaggle of geese and three mice—all bursting with Christmas cheer—means that hibernating isn’t an option. When a raccoon mistakes the red-suited bear for Santa, his denial goes unheeded and word spreads fast. Soon, a menagerie of ecstatic woodland animals crowd Bruce’s cabin, eager to sit in the lap of “Santa Bruce.” Bruce’s children don’t help the situation: “Everyone, listen up! Single file! No pushing! Santa Bruce has time to see all of you!” Expressive artwork captures Bruce’s gently cantankerous demeanor, along with his cast of adorable admirers, as the story continues to its logical conclusion. Thankfully, Bruce has yet to break character by so much as cracking a smile. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Cookiesaurus Christmas

Amy Fellner Dominy and Nate Evans, illus. by A.G. Ford. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-148476745-0

In his second adventure, Cookiesaurus Rex, the self-proclaimed “King of All Cookies,” is iced up to look like Santa and believes he deserves a spot on the plate of the “Big Guy.” Ford’s comical art shows Cookiesaurus Rex peering over a table edge and pleading with the cookie maker (readers see only the figure’s hand, holding a spatula). “What’s so special about Star? Is it because she twinkles? Because I can tinkle too... I mean twinkle!” After the dino removes the competition, Cookiesaurus makes it to the plate, and then makes amends before finding a front and center spot on his new home. Readers are sure to relish this cookie’s attention-seeking antics and unwavering confidence. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Construction Site on Christmas Night

Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by A.G. Ford. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-3911-1

Christmas has arrived at the construction site, and the trucks are finishing up their hard work building a special house. As night comes and snow falls, each truck receives a special gift. Writing in upbeat couplets, Rinker describes each truck’s duties. “Cement Mixer has concrete to pour:/ he lays the foundation, walls, and floor.” By introducing the trucks individually, Rinker allows the excitement of each finding their gifts to resonate every time. Finally, their work is done, and fire trucks roll into “a new home, built just right.” Ford’s oil crayon renderings of the trucks are gently expressive. Truck lovers will gladly welcome the friendly rigs for Christmas. Ages 3–5. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/21/2018 | Details & Permalink

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