Part zoo, part train, all bedtime.

ALL ABOARD THE MOONLIGHT TRAIN

Not sleepy? Then grab your ticket to the ride of a lifetime.

Young railroad enthusiasts with a reluctance for bedtime will heartily embrace this gentle trip on the ultimate animal train line. A small, Asian-presenting child reaches from a locomotive-shaped bed to snatch a ticket from the air, which spirits them to a train where “wild things await,” quite literally. Whether it’s the toucan ticket taker, the elephant working the engines, or the warthog waiters in the dining car, there’s something to enjoy around every corner. And after all the delights have been sampled, the train drops the child off, safe and sound, at home with a final “Good night, good night, Moonlight Train!” Won infuses her art with lighthearted, luminous energy. There is the titular moonlight, certainly, but also starlight, the light of hot coals, and cozy interior lamplight. Sharp-eyed spotters will enjoy finding the animals strewn about the child’s bedroom that show up on the train and its line at various times. Rhyming text maintains a regular rhythm in keeping with a chugging nighttime train. Every four-line stanza, with the exception of the last, ends with the call “All aboard the Moonlight Train!”—and sleepytime readers will be hankering to obey.

Part zoo, part train, all bedtime. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64543-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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