Third time’s the charm: Groovy Joe may give Pete the Cat a run for his money yet

IF YOU'RE GROOVY AND YOU KNOW IT, HUG A FRIEND!

From the Groovy Joe series

Groovy Joe adds another song to his repertoire in this third outing.

The guitar-strumming dog and his squirrel pal are back with an adaptation of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Joe and the little rodent (who lies on Joe’s bed, with its own tiny pillow and blanket) greet the day, explore, laugh and play, and more over the course of this infectious picture book. Lichtenheld’s colored-pencil–and-watercolor illustrations are characteristically lively, bringing Groovy Joe’s world to life and presenting all sorts of animals ready to engage with the world around them and to encourage little readers to do the same. A recording can be downloaded at the publisher’s website. Characters are all lightly anthropomorphized, accessorized with the occasional canteen, backpack, or hat. As the text consists entirely of song lyrics, none of the animals (save for Joe) are specifically gendered. Such details as a rabbit imagining an enormous carrot as the animals plant a community garden and a family of frogs on a log joining in song with Groovy Joe—not to mention the squirrel’s Band-Aid held at the ready for Groovy Joe as he hugs a porcupine—will keep readers engaged, though there is no apparent overarching narrative storyline.

Third time’s the charm: Groovy Joe may give Pete the Cat a run for his money yet . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-88380-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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