This sequel may not be wholly necessary, but little truck lovers will appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel.

TWO TOUGH TRUCKS GET LOST!

Nothing’s spookier than getting lost without your best friend by your side.

Once so different, the buddies of Two Tough Trucks (2019) are now as alike as peas in a pod. Mack and Rig spend their days, “racing and chasing and zipping ’round bends.” Warned by their folks to be back before dark, the two tear off into the saguaro-studded landscape, failing to notice with their headlight-eyes shut that when the road forks they take different paths. Upon discovering that they are not only lost, but separated, the two look high and low as the sun sets in the west. It’s Rig who thinks to light a flare and Mac who gets to the high ground, where he spots it. Reunited, they retrace their tracks, back to parents and home. This rhyming sequel, while peppy, downplays the trucks’ previously established personalities, rendering them nearly identical. It is nice to see them manage their mutual rescue, though the ending lands a bit flat. Blocky, cartoon art keeps things artful and peppy, rendering every little emotion a lost truck might feel in quick succession. Quick-eyed spotters will note the roadrunner and tortoise that secretly accompany our two heroes as they search for one another (even on the endpapers). (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.9-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 18.5% of actual size.)

This sequel may not be wholly necessary, but little truck lovers will appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-23655-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity.

I AM GOLDEN

An immigrant couple’s empowering love letter to their child.

Baby Mei rests in her parents’ embrace, flanked by Chinese architecture on one side and the New York skyline on the other. She will be a bridge across the “oceans and worlds and cultures” that separate her parents from their homeland, China. Mei—a Chinese word which means beautiful—shares a name with her family’s new home: Měi Guó (America). Her parents acknowledge the hypocrisy of xenophobia: “It’s a strange world we live in—people will call you different with one breath and then say that we all look the same with the next angry breath.” Mei will have the responsibility of being “teacher and translator” to her parents. They might not be able to completely shield her from racism, othering, and the pressures of assimilation, but they can reassure and empower her—and they do. Mei and young readers are encouraged to rely on the “golden flame” of strength, power, and hope they carry within them. The second-person narration adds intimacy to the lyrical text. Diao’s lovely digital artwork works in tandem with Chen’s rich textual imagery to celebrate Chinese culture, family history, and language. The illustrations incorporate touchstones of Chinese mythology and art—a majestic dragon, a phoenix, and lotus flowers—as well as family photographs. One double-page spread depicts a lineup of notable Chinese Americans. In the backmatter, Chen and Diao relay their own family stories of immigration. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84205-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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