Unchallenging, easygoing summertime fun guaranteed to please young truck aficionados.

TOW TRUCK JOE MAKES A SPLASH

Summer blues are washed clean away in this cheery, bubbly, truck-filled adventure.

Tow Truck Joe’s a busy vehicle when summer comes around. With the aid of his trusty pal Patch the Pup, he sets about fixing busted bells on ice cream trucks, flat tires on campers, and stalled beach buses. After a grueling series of jump-starts, it’s time to cool off in the carwash. But what’s this? An 18-wheeler’s gotten stuck in the carwash, and even Tow Truck Joe’s not strong enough to pull it out. Whatever can be done? Children with a penchant for anthropomorphized trucks and cars (with nary a human in sight) may not find this book too different from similar titles out there, but they’ll hardly care. Gentle rhymes convey an even gentler storyline, with a happy ending for one and all. The real treat, however, lies in the tiny details hidden in the art. Sharp-eyed adults may enjoy peeking at background signs and buildings, like the MoMA (Museum of Motor Art, with an exhibit of Vincent Van-Go), the Brake Disc record shop, or the spray-tan ad to “build your base coat.” The little-kid VW Bugs are adorable. Even environmentalists can enjoy it, as these electric vehicles hook up to a charging point at the end of the day. Best of all, the summer season comes through loud and clear on each and every page. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7.8-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 32.6% of actual size.)

Unchallenging, easygoing summertime fun guaranteed to please young truck aficionados. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-06366-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun.

MY MAGICAL WITCH

From the My Magical Friends series

Four green-faced witches fly through this durable board book looking for Halloween fun.

A turn of the notched wheel embedded in the cover page changes the sparkly stripes on a witch’s hat, cape, and broom. Three more witches join the fun inside. Though not identified by gender, all wear dresses. All the interactive elements are focused on the first witch, who wears fluffy orange hair in two pigtails. One slider simultaneously lifts a broom and plops a straight hat on top of that hair. Another slides the witch across the night sky. A second wheel shows the ingredients being added to a cauldron. A final slider magically produces three black cats. Two lines of (uncredited) rhyming text on each of the four double-page spreads hint at what the interactive element will reveal. While the text is conveniently placed in the same spot on each spread, the vocabulary is peppered with reach words for the toddler audience: “Off they swooped on whizzing brooms, / heading for the potions room.” Mice, pumpkins, spiderwebs, owls, brooms, bats, and other thematically appropriate objects and creatures scattered across the busy pages place the book firmly in the Halloween genre. Unnamed and primarily decorative, these seemingly arbitrary additions distract from the slight story thread. Toddlers will readily manipulate the five smoothly performing interactive elements; unfortunately, the text and pictures are not equally enticing.

Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4463-1

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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