Friendship and bulldozers. What could be sweeter?

BULLDOZER FRIENDS

From the Digger Man series

The star of the Digger Man (2003) books returns in this low-key paean to construction and friendship.

Fond as he is of his little brother, young Oliver doesn’t mind going to school because he has his friend Annie there. The two share a mutual love of building, drawing, trains, and other activities, but it’s during outside recess that they get to do what they really love: play with the toy construction vehicles in the sandbox. “We are a team. / We work together like a real construction crew,” says Oliver, operating a bulldozer as Annie does the same. In their imaginations, they actually drive trucks on a fanciful construction site over several double-page spreads until at last they are called back inside. The book deftly mirrors such social constructs as sharing (sometimes Annie plays with Oliver’s bulldozer), friendship, and respectful play for those readers who may still find trucks more interesting than other kids. Gender equality takes the spotlight since Oliver and Annie are on equal footing at all times. Bright, colorful paints and clear-cut images add to the book’s already considerable appeal. Oliver presents White, and Annie presents Black. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 59.1% of actual size.)

Friendship and bulldozers. What could be sweeter? (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30403-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over.

NOISY TRACTOR

From the I Can Learn series

Little ones can explore a day in the life of a rubber-covered, audio-enabled tractor.

The “5 noisy parts!” promised on the cover are powered by a battery embedded in the back of the book, the compartment securely screwed shut. Youngsters are prompted by the text to press various parts of the tractor to make interesting sound effects, such as an engine starting then chugging, a horn, and tire noise on muddy or rocky terrain. A large, tractor-shaped die-cut hole in every page allows children to access the vehicle on every double-page spread but leaves the left-hand pages dominated by that tractor-shaped hole. Farm animals make their signature sounds via speech bubble (horses, chicks, and cows, to name a few) along with other critters offering suggestions about which buttons on the tractor to press. For additional play value, a ladybug and a caterpillar can be spotted on every double-page spread. Labels for most of the animals appear in a clear font along with other farm-centric vocabulary words: pitchfork, seedlings, trough. Elliott’s art is busy, but the simple, eye-catching patterns and graphically clean lines in bright colors will appeal to the audience. While this offering is perfect for toddlers, the extensive warnings in the fine print on the back of the book about what may happen if the button battery is swallowed should scare adults into being vigilant. Thankfully, there is an on/off switch allowing for toggling between a quiet and noisy reading experience.

Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-669-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Simple words and big concepts will make this a godsend to parents at their wit's end.

BYE-BYE BINKY

From the Big Kid Power series

This book seeks to use the power of persuasion to vanquish that most formidable of opponents: toddlers.

In this entry in the Big Kid Power series, a little black girl makes no bones about the fact that pacifiers (or “binkies”) are strictly baby territory. When she was little she needed one, but that was then. Whether she’s tired, sad, or hungry, there are other ways of being comforted: hugs and polite requests, for instance. After she gives her binky to a baby and bids it a very clear goodbye, the book ends with a triumphant, “I’M A BIG KID!” Using a striking color combination of orange, brown, and black, van Lieshout keeps her pages bold and bright, complementing the simple vocabulary. Such declarations as, “Do I still have a binky? // NO, BIG KIDS DON’T NEED A BINKY. / NOPE!” leave scant wiggle room for argument. In her author’s note at the end, van Lieshout says that after speaking to many parents about how they helped their kids bid their pacifiers adieu, “many of them had in common…a ritual of some sort.” The ritual here seems to be giving the pacifier away, though it may be missed by many readers. Companion title I Use the Potty uses a similar approach, with a proud, white boy as its guide.

Simple words and big concepts will make this a godsend to parents at their wit's end. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3536-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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