UNCLES AND ANTLERS, by Lisa Wheeler.
Ages 3 to 6
A Richard Jackson Book | Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster
The best answer yet to that perennial question: what do Santa's reindeer do during the off season? As her seven antlered uncles arrive, young Octavia counts them off: Uncle Uno's a skier: "He has one hat. / He has one vest. He wears one stopwatch on his chest." Uncle Duce's an Elvis impersonator with two wigs, two boots, etc.; Uncle Trey's a diver, and so on-but all gather once a year to set up the tree, get the gifts wrapped, and to confirm that she's their favorite niece. Floca illustrates their arrival in simply drawn, splashy watercolors featuring cheery, pop-eyed figures sporting a variety of costumes and head-racks. Once the clan has gathered, and Santa steps on stage to take a bow, "We change our clothes. / We hitch the sleigh. / We're ready now. . . . / We're on our way!" Who wouldn't want to ride along?
School Library Journal:
In a bouncy, rhyming text, a young reindeer tells of the yearly visit from her seven uncles. Eccentric and unique, they range from her speedy Uncle Uno to her literary Uncle Sven, and each one says that she is his favorite niece. It turns out that they all gather together in order to pull Santa's sleigh, a surprise ending that is a fine climax to this vigorous tale. Adding to the energy are the madcap cartoons depicting brave Uncle Sy showing off the six scars caused by his six crashed-up racing cars and strong Uncle Four-eyes twirling four lassos at once (yes, this is also a counting book). This saga of a wild and crazy reindeer family is guaranteed to fly off the holiday shelves.
The holidays just aren't holidays without relatives, and Octavia the reindeer has them in spades: seven unique uncles who come from all corners of the world to join her each Christmas at the North Pole. But this family isn't just swapping stories and presents, they pull Santa's sleigh. Kids may wonder what has happened to Rudolph and the gang, but the more familiar team won't be missed for long. Wheeler's (Turk and Runt) kicky rhyming text and Floca's (The Racecar Alphabet) hilarious ink-and-watercolor artwork depict the uncles in their glory - from Elvis impersonator to trick basketball player - with clever charm. An emphasis on counting and family togetherness adds a welcome bonus.
There are many counting books, but this one takes a novel twist. Seven uncles fly in every year to visit their favorite niece. They arrive with "shaggy coats, scarves of red,/two tall antlers on each head." From Uncle Uno to Uncle Sven, they all declare Octavia is indeed their favorite. Each uncle is quite distinctive. Uncle Uno, who wears lift tickets on every tine, is the fastest, Uncle Duce sings like Elvis and has two white jumpsuits, while Uncle Quint is a basketball star with five tattoos. When they are all together the reason for their gathering is made clear. The eight reindeer get together every year to pull Santa's sleigh. The rhyme is catchy, the story moves along at a merry pace and the illustrations are as clever as the text. This book is fun to read aloud. —Carolyn Mott Ford.
With a peppy rhyme and zoom-zoom illustrations, this introduces a whole new crew of Santa's reindeer. A young reindeer has seven uncles, each one unique: "Uncle Dunce from Cameroon / bellows out an Elvis tune." Crazy Uncle Sy is "a fearless sort of guy" who gives "most any stunt a try." Each uncle has a signature characteristic--strong, cool, brave--but the narrator notes they all have one thing in common: she is their favorite niece. When all gather in one place, they are ready for their yearly job: pulling Santa's sleigh. A dynamic read-aloud, this also crackles with humor, especially in the line-and-watercolor illustrations, which feature appropriately clad reindeer, with goofy expressions, skiing, dancing, and driving across the pages. Kids may wonder what happened to Donner and Blitzen et al., but they'll welcome these interlopers. —Ilene Cooper.