This underwear affair is wise, witty, and just brief enough.

SOMETHING'S WRONG!

A BEAR, A HARE, AND SOME UNDERWEAR

A chatty bear causes a stir in the forest by leaving the house in an embarrassing pair of white underwear.

When Jeff the bear runs down a checklist of things to do before leaving the cottage in the morning, one big item is forgotten: taking off the tighty whities that Grandma sent. As Jeff encounters pal after pal (none of whom wear underwear, nor indeed any human clothing), the bear has a sense that something is very wrong. But what could it be? Finally, after many animals break the fourth wall to ask readers, “Why is that bear wearing underwear?” Jeff goes to a rabbit friend named Anders who explains. And while there’s a huge moment of awkwardness when all the animals show up, Anders and Jeff are able to seize the moment. The underpinnings of this charming picture book are already strong (underwear is inherently funny), and the babbling small talk Jeff engages in while trying to figure out what’s wrong adds a lot to the increasingly silly situation (“Am I right or am I right? I think I’m right”). John’s text perfectly pitches the jokes to a strong conclusion at just the right pace while Kraan’s energetic illustrations, with hardly a straight line in the entire book, add to the sense of ultimately harmless cringe. The book is also a clever primer on handling embarrassment and how it can sometimes be dealt with by simply changing the perspective of what’s happening. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

This underwear affair is wise, witty, and just brief enough. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31388-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

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

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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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