Despite its emphasis on friendship, this muddied story with its awkward puns doesn’t become greater than the sum of its...

MUDDYMANIA!

From the Mighty Truck series

A superhero truck? Just what the world needs!

Many young kids love superheroes and trucks and getting dirty, so what could be better than a picture book that glorifies all three? Clarence, a rather ordinary-looking dirty pickup truck, and Bruno, a nattier-looking cement mixer, are best friends, but readers soon learn that with a quick wash job, Clarence turns into the bright red Mighty Truck. Mighty Truck is supposed to keep his identity secret, but when faced with a perilous emergency at Muddymania, held in Axleburg Arena, he has to make a quick decision. Can he use his superpowers (without revealing his secret identity) to prevent exhausted Flo, the watering truck who has created all the mud for the special event, from crashing haphazardly into the all-truck crowd? Like a four-wheeled Jimmy Olsen, Bruno forges ahead, and Clarence, aka Mighty Truck, must follow. The rescue is accomplished, but Bruno learns the secret. The bromance is sealed, but is there a whiff of old-fashioned anti-feminism in the air? Why is it Flo, the female truck, who must be rescued? Most kids won’t care, and the Adobe Photoshop digital illustrations are full of all kinds of moving vehicles with faces, resembling childhood favorites like Little Toot and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Despite its emphasis on friendship, this muddied story with its awkward puns doesn’t become greater than the sum of its parts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-234479-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Another breezy sail past things that go.

EVERYTHING GOES: BY SEA

B

From the Everything Goes series

Biggs ferries young viewers past floating fleets in his latest set of bustling cartoon surveys.

The voyage is sandwiched between sequences of big, wordless before and after panels. It begins when a vacationing family drives aboard a Center City ferry. After casting off, it navigates past themed gatherings of working boats and gigantic ships; craft of various sizes and historical periods driven by oars, motors or sails; houseboats and more. It docks in the wake of a climactic double gatefold in an entire harbor full of diverse vessels. Along the way, minidisquisitions on sails and propellers, cargo shipping, submarines, cruise ships and other nautical topics are delivered with plenty of sight gags and side business. Signal flags spell out “fish fry tonight,” and a fishing boat dubbed Archimedes demonstrates buoyancy and displacement, for instance. Biggs adds cutaway views as well as labels, jokes (“How long do you think the trip will take?” “About fifty-six pages”), review questions and occasional selfies to his full but not overstuffed scenes.

Another breezy sail past things that go. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-195811-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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