Sure to become a read-aloud favorite.

THE KOALA WHO COULD

Feeling safe and comfortable in his tree, Kevin the koala resists the invitation to come down and have fun.

Despite encouragement from a wombat, the roos, and the dingoes, the uncertainty of what might happen below is too much for Kevin to overcome. So he refuses and makes excuses. Later, while watching the others share in a bonfire singalong, he briefly considers joining then rationalizes, “But he knew he’d miss home / …it was dark and SO late. / The whole thing was risky. / Adventure could wait.” Until a woodpecker comes along: “TAP TAPPITY TAP TAP TAP TAP OH NO!” The woodpecker’s destruction creates a break in Kevin’s tree, causing it to come crashing down even as his friends plead with him to “UN-CLING!” and “Leap and we’ll catch you! / Just let yourself go!” Field’s expressive and humorous Australian-animal caricatures vividly extend the nicely paced rhyming narrative’s message. Kevin’s worried, nervous frowns are paralleled with happy, cheering smiles of his Down Under buddies. The climactic scene’s clattering smash, with Kevin’s possessions flying while he clutches, eyes squeezed shut, his branch, brings the story to a sudden thundering pause. The next page shows everyone’s surprised wide-eyed relief and love for Kevin, who has survived his worst fear and will now be willing and able to try new things.

Sure to become a read-aloud favorite. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-13908-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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