While it’s cute and will help to complete vehicle lovers’ collections, this package doesn’t do much to address school fears...


Rhyming verses stretch out the job of a school bus to 12 spreads.

Driving down the road, picking up kids and dropping them off, visiting the mechanic, operating the wheelchair platform and going around a bend are a few of the things the yellow vehicle does in the job it so obviously loves, as evidenced by its smiling bumper, cheerful eyes and pink cheeks—all vehicle parts. Each verse starts with “I’m a little school bus,” so readers (especially those reading aloud) will be hard-pressed not to try to force the rhymes into the tune for “I’m a Little Teapot.” Some work better than others, both at fitting the tune and scanning well. “I’m a little school bus / waiting by the walk. / Boys and girls climb on, / sit and laugh and talk.” Kolar’s digital illustrations are cartoon-bright, the people are nicely diverse, and there’s not a grumpy face to be found. Oddly, the creators choose not to focus on a single day; the illustrations go from skirt- and shorts-clad children to a snow day and back to T-shirts in just three spreads. There’s not much on bus safety (save lining up to get on and don’t put your hands out the windows), and the pictures never show the inside of the bus.

While it’s cute and will help to complete vehicle lovers’ collections, this package doesn’t do much to address school fears or preparedness in the preschool audience it appears to be aimed at. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9435-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A tiny tug…on the heartstrings.


A perky little tug puts her brawn, and brains, to good use.

“[C]hugging through the waves on the bright blue water,” a little tugboat named Scout starts her day. Whether it’s a container ship, a cruise ship, or a freighter, she’s always there to help. But what’s this? A massive oil tanker’s engine has failed, and it’s headed toward the rocks. Scout tries to help, but the scope of the endeavor overwhelms her. Eschewing the go-it-alone attitude of the Little Engine That Could, Scout realizes that this is one job too big. She calls upon her fellow tugs to lend a hand, showing that sometimes it takes a crew. No doubt young fans of things that float will find much to enjoy, as this cozy maritime tale offers just enough mild thrills to excite without alarm. Adult readers will probably feel even more keenly than their children the danger posed by the drifting oil tanker (particularly when they notice the dolphins, the pelican, the gull, the fish, and even the rather small whale that also inhabit the harbor). They may also note with pleasure that the book’s gendered ships are always identified as female, in keeping with nautical convention. The unchallenging cartoon art featuring anthropomorphic boats pleases without surprising.

A tiny tug…on the heartstrings. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7264-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Four-wheeled fun, if a little unbalanced.


The big trucks work hard all day, and at night they sleep, just like us.

Near the highway, as vehicles “vroooom” by, big trucks are busy building a road. “Digger’s sharp teeth hit the earth. / He’s clawing holes for all he’s worth.” Backhoe “jolts and judders,” making the “whole road shudder.” Dump truck carries away heaps of earth. Grader has a “giant blade,” which “gets the sticky asphalt laid.” Concrete mixer turns sand, gravel, and cement, churning them into the new road’s surface. “Dusty plow truck at the double. / Tips his load of stones and rubble.” Last of all comes “huge road roller,” with big impressive wheels, to give the new highway a smooth surface. There’s a double gatefold at the center of the book, giving a panoramic view of all seven colorful trucks, hard at work. After a hard day, the trucks take the exit ramp off to bed. A good rub with a cleaning brush, a cooling spray, and it’s time to rest. “All tucked safely in their yard / they snuggle down, they’ve worked so hard.” Freedman’s crisp and accessible verse is the perfect complement to Smythe’s bright and blocky illustrations, which have a toddler-friendly Lego or Playskool feel. While construction workers and passers-by of both genders and diverse skin tones populate the pages, all the trucks are gendered male—an odd disconnect.

Four-wheeled fun, if a little unbalanced. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9011-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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