This book may look like a classic, but with forest fires ever more frequent and intense, it’s truly timely.


The little spotter plane that could.

Channeling old Disney shorts, Neubecker sets his tale among the aerial firefighters of the National Interagency Fire Center. When it comes to forest fires, the water-scooper and air-tanker planes have clearly defined jobs to do. One little plane, who hasn’t even “earned her name” yet, yearns to help her companions, but her every attempt is denied. Then one day, a fire starts that can only be reached by someone small, fast, and brave, and the rest is history. The story of a little vehicle that could has been done before, but this book stands apart. Fully half the emergency planes featured are identified as female (including the biggest tanker and the titular heroine). Meanwhile, watercolor, pencil, and computer illustrations create thick evergreens engulfed in swirls of orange and red flames as white and gray smoke permeates the space that is left. So enthralling are these landscape scenes that they feel positively cinematic. Angled views often present the planes with just one eyeball instead of the two that are clearly present when seen face on, but this inconsistency is only mildly unnerving. Copious backmatter discusses how wildfires start, who fights them, who the crews are, what aerial firefighting is, what readers can do, and where readers can go for more wildfire information.

This book may look like a classic, but with forest fires ever more frequent and intense, it’s truly timely. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5104-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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


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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A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the pirate ship...pick the playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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