An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles.


When a tiny green-and-white pumper joins the fire crew, the captain truck doubts his abilities.

Firehouse No. 10 seems as though it has all the fire trucks it needs. Capt. Chuck is a large hook and ladder, Emily (stereotypically depicted as the sole truck with eyelashes) is the equipment truck, and Rudy carries the chemical foam. But there is word that a new truck is coming. “Oh, no, no, no!” moans Capt. Chuck. “This will not do! I’m very happy with my crew, crew, crew!” Poor little Kai, a tiny pumper, is doomed before he starts. Plus, the others are a gleaming red, and he is green and white. How will he ever fit in? On his first night in the station, he grabs some red crayons and scribbles himself a new coat. The two other trucks admire his ingenuity, but the captain shouts, “underneath that crayon you’re still white and green. I don’t think you’re right for our team, team, team.” Despite the harsh words, Kai perseveres and proves his worth when, during a fire, he fits into a tight spot that none of the other trucks can reach. Yamada’s animation background shines through in the cartoon trucks reminiscent of Disney’s Cars. Capt. Chuck’s rhymed, thrice-repeated words continue (bafflingly, he’s the only one who speaks this way), but the rhythm becomes increasingly jarring as he gets nicer (perhaps compliments are difficult).

An oft-told tale in fire-truck form. It’s earnest, but it fizzles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81636-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?