Lucid and insightful, Mathers presents death and grief as natural processes with compassion and great care.

WHEN AUNT MATTIE GOT HER WINGS

Lottie the hen must say goodbye to her beloved aunt Mattie in this gentle story about loss, grief and friendship.

When the hospital calls to say Aunt Mattie is getting weak, Lottie journeys to see her. On the long bus ride, happy memories surface—of shared picnics and jokes, and of Mattie herself, a bird full of humor and gusto, who found her calling as a nurse. But now Aunt Mattie is 99, ready to fly to the great beyond. For hours, Lottie sits with her aunt at the hospital. Descriptive details (the sound of Aunt Mattie’s breathing, the way she looks in the hospital bed, the feeling of day turning to night) are simply captured; yet in doing so, Mathers brings meaning to the clinical and unfamiliar. Here, these moments are precious and valuable. Throughout the tale, Lottie’s friend Herbie is a comforting presence. His innocent perspective allows even the very young to grasp complex concepts. As he drives Lottie to the bus station, meets her at the hospital and shares in her heartache, it’s clear his friendship and support make this difficult time bearable for Lottie. Together, the two scatter Aunt Mattie’s ashes in the ocean, so she’ll “always be near...mixed in with sand and sea.” Watercolor illustrations, painted in mostly square panels and organized like an old newspaper comic strip, are earnest and appealing.

Lucid and insightful, Mathers presents death and grief as natural processes with compassion and great care. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1044-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Preachy and predictable.

RUBYLICIOUS

From the Pinkalicious series

Pinkalicious is excited to add the 100th rock to her rock collection.

Her brother, Peter, is not impressed. He thinks the rock looks dirty and that it isn’t special at all. When the siblings try to rub the rock clean, though, something wonderful happens: A magical figure emerges in a cloud of red smoke. Rather than ask her name, Pinkalicious and Peter tell her they will call her Rocky. Rocky accepts the new name and nervously says that she can grant the children a wish. But every time the sister and brother make a wish, Rocky initially grants it and then talks them out of it. When Peter and Pinkalicious wish for a gigantic mountain of sweets, for instance, a timorous Rocky shows them how eating so much sugar harms their bodies. When the children wish that they could fly, Rocky shows them how dangerous flying can be. When they wish to live in a castle, Rocky gives them a palace that is too large and cold to be any fun. In the end, Pinkalicious and Peter decide that the best wish they can make isn’t for themselves but for Rocky—a decision that leads to even more magical results. This latest series installment underwhelms. In addition to the arbitrary plot and wooden dialogue, Pinkalicious and Peter come across as maddeningly entitled. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Preachy and predictable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305521-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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