A deserving if not divine little book, worthy of its pint-sized enthusiasts

THE LITTLE FIRE TRUCK

Clearly The Little Dump Truck (2009) and The Little School Bus (2014) were just the prelude to Cuyler and Kolar’s most ambitious project yet.

“Perky” would not be a poor way of describing the little fire truck that shuttles its white driver, Jill, and her racially diverse fire crew all over town. Each rhyming stanza, one per spread, begins with the line “I’m a little fire truck” then proceeds in a standard abcb rhyme scheme. After rescuing a cat, the firefighters must contend with a burning building. Happily it just takes a couple “splish-splosh” squirts of the fire hose to put everything right. Aimed at toddlers and younger preschoolers, the art proves to be just as simple as the text. The digital illustrations keep the color bright, the anthropomorphized truck perky, and the situations shy of scary. Cuyler even opts to ensure that the burning building is pet- and baby-free. When it comes to true firefighting enthusiasts, more is always better, hence the endpapers’ impressive (not to mention diverse and gender-inclusive) visual dictionary of terms. (Front and rear are identical.) Alas, no fire-safety tips are included aside from the visual image of Jill and crew crawling along the floor, so continue to turn to Mike Austin’s Fire Engine No. 9 (2015) as the industry standard.

A deserving if not divine little book, worthy of its pint-sized enthusiasts . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-805-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc.

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

From the The Goodnight Train series

Not quite the Polar Express….

Sobel’s rhyming text fails to deliver a clear premise for the eponymous goodnight train’s Christmas Eve progress through the pages, and Huliska-Beith’s acrylic paintings embellished with fabric and paper collage don’t clarify the storytelling. At the start of the picture book, a bevy of anthropomorphic animals decorates a rather rickety-looking engine, and then human children gather around and pile into train cars that look like beds and cribs. The train follows a track, seemingly in pursuit of Santa’s sleigh, but to what end isn’t clear. They travel “through a town of gingerbread” and through the woods to find the sleigh blocking the tracks and the reindeer snoozing while, mystifyingly, Santa counts some sheep. Perching the sleigh on the train’s cowcatcher, they all proceed to the North Pole, where the “elves all cheer. / Santa’s here until next year!” But then the goodnight train just…leaves, “heading home on Christmas Eve.” Was this a dream? It definitely wasn’t a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Santa’s face is never seen; the human children and elves are diverse.

A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-61840-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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