We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE ENGINE

The line between book and brand blurs with this bedtime take on an old standby.

Watty Piper’s little blue engine, best known for her persistence, now finds herself wide awake in the roundhouse when bedtime comes. Venturing out to investigate a nighttime sound, she finds a lost baby bird and decides to return it to its mother. Immediately they engage the help of Rusty Engine and some of the toys from the original story. These now appear to live with the engines in the roundhouse (guess they never made it to the good little girls and boys after all?). But what’s this? The mama bird has been living in the roundhouse this whole time too! (So what was Little Bird doing outside? And how is it that he doesn’t recognize the roundhouse as his home?) Family is reunited. Art meant to evoke bygone days depicts characters and scenery alike in bright, bold colors. The dolls include a light-skinned one with blond hair and one brown-skinned doll with brown hair as well as a monkey that unfortunately reinforces the old silly-monkey stereotype. One cannot help but remark that, with the release of the 90th-anniversary edition of The Little Engine That Could, newly illustrated by Dan Santat (2020), this tepid, illogical title, riding on the coattails of a classic, seems totally unnecessary.

We think you can, we think you can, we think you can…skip this superfluous outing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09457-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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